Highlights new gift shop with West Virginia-made products and enhanced merchandise
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today more than $1 million in improvement projects at Kanawha State Forest, including a new gift shop with West Virginia-made products and new Almost Heaven-branded merchandise.
“Today, I congratulate everyone involved in all the good work that we’re doing at Kanawha State Forest and all across our state,” Gov. Justice said. “Over and over, we’re seeing the same thing; if you give people of the world an invitation to West Virginia, they realize that we’re the diamond in the rough that they missed.”
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The $1 million in improvement projects will span across three phases of development. More than $160,000 in upgrades have already been completed between the new-look gift shop, ADA-accessible playground, and electrical upgrades at the campground.
Additional projects, including a disc golf course, trail kiosks, and bathhouse renovations are currently underway.
Future projects include upgrades to the forest’s shooting and archery ranges, access road, restrooms, picnic shelters, and more.
Gov. Justice was joined by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel and Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby for the announcement. Together, they celebrated the continued collaboration between the WVDNR and the Tourism Office.
“The gift shop we saw today was a joint effort between our team at the WVDNR and the Tourism Office,” Director McDaniel said. “Our parks know what visitors are looking for and the Tourism Office knows how to design material that sets our state apart as Almost Heaven. I’m so proud of the finished product. When you walk into this gift shop, you get a first-class experience and high-quality merchandise.”
The new Kanawha State Forest gift shop is the first of many similar upgrades coming to gift shops across West Virginia, in addition to improved guest experiences at state parks and forests.
“We know that more than 87 percent of people who visit West Virginia decide to come back, so it’s important we take pride in the customer experience and offerings for those visiting our parks and forests,” Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby said. “It’s our hope that this new gift shop, along with the other forest upgrades, will give that stand-out first impression and will invite guests to purchase mementos and souvenirs that will hopefully get them to come back or, even better, invite a friend for their next visit.”
Major improvements have now been completed or started at every state park in West Virginia, with more than $100 million invested to date. Over the past month, Gov. Justice has announced nearly $12 million in improvement projects at Pipestem Resort State Park, over $25 million in improvements at Cacapon Resort State Park, $2.4 million in improvements at Tygart Lake State Park, and a combined $12 million in improvements at Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley Resort state parks.
“West Virginia is the place people want to be,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve done all kinds of really good work and now, all of a sudden, our state is exploding tourism-wise. Absolutely, it’s on fire. What’s going on couldn’t be any better.
“If you just think about it, and you just step back and look around, you’re instantly reminded how beautiful it is here,” Gov. Justice continued. “Honest to Pete, we live in paradise, and the whole world is beginning to find that out. I could never be more proud.”
West Virginia’s state parks and forests welcome more than 7 million visitors each year. To learn more about improvements at parks and forests across the state, or to book your stay, visit WVstateparks.com.