WV New River Gorge Now Protected as a National Park

by Duane Nichols on January 11, 2021

Horseshoe Bend in New River seen from Grandview Park

America’s Newest National Park Is Also the First in West Virginia

From an Article by Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch.com, January 7, 2021

The U.S. is beginning the new year with a new national park. The nation’s 63rd national park is also the first to be designated as such in the state of West Virginia. New River Gorge, in Fayetteville, was officially changed from a national river to a national park as part of the COVID-19 relief bill that passed on Dec. 27, 2020.

Redesignation of the National River to a National Park and Preserve will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer, and provide another catalyst for our tourism industry and local businesses. The New River Gorge is already a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It sees almost one million visitors every year and boasts activities like hiking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing and camping.

Despite its name, the river is actually believed to be one of the oldest in North America. It has been important for West Virginians throughout the state’s history, serving both Indigenous Americans and railway and coal-mining communities. It has been managed by the National Park Service as a national river since 1978, but hopefully its new status will attract more visitors.

Outdoor recreation is a $9 billion industry for West Virginia, and making the gorge a national park could boost visits by over 20 percent.

The efforts to redesignate the river represents a signal that West Virginia is shifting its economy from coal mining to conservation and recreation. The Congress people met with small business owners and outdoor enthusiasts in the state to build support for the new park, and emphasized its economic benefits.

This designation will increase the international recognition by highlighting West Virginia’s world-class beauty and resources. This designation will promote the beauty and rich history of the New River Gorge, while ensuring that the longstanding traditions of hunting and fishing are protected for generations to come.

To accommodate hunting and fishing, the new park will also double as a National Preserve. It will feature 7,021 acres of protected riverfront and a 65,165 acre preserve where hunting and fishing can take place. This makes it the only duel park and preserve outside of Alaska.

The New River Gorge is home to all West Virginia has to offer – beauty, small businesses, and adventurous tourism opportunities. This legislation will preserve and protect the New River Gorge for generations to come and make the state an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.

{NOTE — This Article has been edited for clarity and to remove political inferences.}

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