You'll no longer be charged to visit Shiloh National Military Park. You read that right. The park administration has decided to do away with entrance fees because of the multiple entry points in the park.
Park Superintendent Woody Harrell brought an end to the fees, which have been charged at Shiloh since the 1970s, this past Saturday.
"Earlier this year, we undertook a thorough and comprehensive review of the fee program and its impact on both visitation and local tourism," the superintendent said.
Due to the open nature of the park, with multiple roads crossing the battlefield, equitable fee collection has always been difficult.
"To keep the cost of collection as low as possible, we have always collected the fee at the Shiloh Visitor Center, rather than at the park entrances," Superintendent Harrell explained, "and given the location of the visitor center, on the extreme northeastern part of the battlefield, all visitors pass through a large portion of the park before they even arrive at the fee collection point.
"Because fees were being collected at the Visitor Center information desk, many people saw the fee as a charge just to enter the Visitor Center, which discouraged many park patrons from watching the orientation film, viewing exhibits, picking up driving tour maps, and asking questions of our park rangers," he continued. "We were losing our best chance to interact with the public and also update them on current park information and ranger programs."
As a result of the study, Superintendent Harrell proposed ending the entrance fee program as the park prepares for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in April 2012.
"We felt it was in the best interest of the park, especially in these uncertain economic times, to end fee collection and promote visitation to the park and the surrounding area. I would hate to see an entrance fee discourage our citizens from making a trip to this important site," the superintendent said in a prepared release.
In addition to the elimination of entrance fees, Shiloh will no longer be participating in the America the Beautiful, National Park and Federal Recreation Lands Pass program. Anyone with questions about the America the Beautiful passes, or a list of facilities that sell passes, are encouraged to contact the Shiloh Visitor Center at 731-689-5696 or go to the Federal Recreation Pass website at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.