After careful consideration of public comments received in May 2005 regarding a proposal to change the visiting hours for Gettysburg National Military Park, the National Park Service has announced that the battlefield will change its hours during the winter months only. From
November 1 through March 31, each year, the park will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. From April 1 through October 31, there will be no change in visiting hours â€" the park will remain open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
"We believe this compromise will strike the right balance between allowing for public enjoyment of the battlefield and ensuring that battlefield resources will be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations," said park Superintendent John Latschar.
The park received more than 200 written comments from the public during a formal comment period that ended May 31, 2005. Local citizens and park neighbors wrote about their enjoyment of the peacefulness and serenity of the park after sunset. School students and teachers,
whose yearly class visits to Gettysburg include an evening of reflection on the battlefield after dark, asked to continue this use. Several families who travel here from great distances explained that they can only afford to stay a short time in Gettysburg and wanted to maximize their time on the
battlefield by staying past sunset.
The concerns outlined in the National Park Service proposal to change its hours were: threats to park resources during after-dark hours, visitor safety, and lack of adequate staffing.
Park staff will continue to closely monitor potential threats to park resources at Devils Den, Little Round Top, Peace Light Memorial, the Pennsylvania Memorial, and elsewhere as a result of both deliberate abuse and unintentional acts during after-dark use. Visitor safety
and adequate law enforcement staffing will continue to be a concern.
"In the future we may have to reconsider this issue if incidents and threats continue or increase," said Latschar.
The new visiting hours will become effective November 1, 2005. The National Park Service will establish a grace enforcement period from November 1 through December 31, 2005, to acclimate the public to the changes in park operating hours. Beginning January 1, 2006, fines
would be enforced as specified. Under the policy, park-approved special events, such as the annual Remembrance Illumination, youth group campground operations, and park sponsored public meetings would continue to be permitted. Certain park avenues would continue to be accessible 24 hours/day for
vehicular through-travel only.
For more information contact Gettysburg National Military Park at (717) 334-1124, ext. 422 or 431 or visit the park web site at www.nps.gov/gett/home.htm