Capito, Manchin, Miller hold new River Gorge stakeholders’ meeting on Park and Preserve Legislation

Legislation would help encourage tourism; boost economy; preserve designated hunting, fishing areas

LANSING, W.Va. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), along with Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) today met with community leaders, business owners, and others from the area to discuss the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Act—legislation that would change the “New River Gorge National River” to the “New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.”

The redesignation would promote the beauty and historical significance of the New River Gorge, while ensuring that the longstanding traditions of hunting and fishing are protected for generations to come.

“The New River Gorge is part of what truly makes our state so wild and wonderful,” Senator Capito said. “While this West Virginia treasure has been a unit of the National Park Service since 1978, we can really rebrand this area and attract new visitors with a simple name change, which is exactly what my bill—the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Act—would do. I was glad to hear from so many community leaders, business owners, sportsmen, and others, about this legislation and discuss with them in more detail about why this measure would benefit the area and those who call this place home. Redesignating the National River to a National Park and Preserve will shine a new, brighter light on the New River Gorge and its many offerings—including hunting and fishing—to help drive tourism and spur the local and regional economy. I’m excited that this bill will hopefully allow more people to see the side of West Virginia that we all know and love.”

“Today we had a productive conversation about the future of the New River Gorge. West Virginians take great pride in our outdoor heritage and particularly the New River Gorge National River. The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Act will bring renewed recognition to a cherished West Virginia playground. The next step is a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. As Ranking Member of the Committee, I will bring the ideas and concerns we discussed today with me back to Washington as I work to ensure this bill becomes law,” Senator Manchin said

“West Virginia’s natural beauty is one of our greatest assets,” Congresswoman Miller said. “Redesignating the New River Gorge as a National Park and Preserve will boost our tourism, grow our economy, and draw in more people from around the world to appreciate this wonder of nature. I was grateful for today’s productive conversation and thoughtful input from leaders in the outdoor recreation and hunting and fishing communities and appreciated the opportunity to share all of the benefits this legislation will bring. I look forward to partnering with Senator Capito and the rest of our colleagues in the West Virginia delegation to work to deliver this big win for our state.”

“This has been a watershed year for Fayetteville with many pieces of the puzzle falling into place to make for a vibrant arts, culture, dining, and tourism scene,” Lewis Rhinehart, owner of Secret Sandwich Society WV and The Grove WV, said. “The additional attention, funding, diversity, and tourism that this designation would bring to the region would be a win for everyone involved.”

In West Virginia, outdoor recreation is a $9 billion industry and one that supports more than 91,000 jobs. Studies have shown that mere designation of a monument or area to National Park status has increased the number of visitors by 21 percent. By redesignating the New River Gorge National River to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, this area stands to benefit tremendously.

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Designation Act will maintain hunting and fishing within the preserve area—areas where sportsmen currently enjoy hunting and fishing. The legislation also specifically protects hunting, fishing, and trapping on privately owned land and will preserve and help grow the vibrant outdoor recreation industry on the New River. The New River Gorge has a long and rich history, which is also preserved through this legislation. 

For full text of the legislation, click here.

For a map of the proposed boundaries, click here.

For more information on the New River Gorge, click here.

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