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U.S. Senators Manchin, Capito ensure New River Gorge legislation included in year-end package

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., issued the following statements regarding the inclusion of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Designation Act — legislation that would redesignate the New River Gorge National River as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve—in the year-end legislative package. This redesignation will promote the beauty and historical significance of the New River Gorge by making the site just the 63rd National Park and 20th National Preserve in the United States, while ensuring that the longstanding traditions of hunting and fishing are protected for generations to come.

Congress is expected to vote on the year-end legislative package soon, which includes this legislation and several other provisions that will benefit West Virginians.

“The New River Gorge is truly one of West Virginia’s most treasured playgrounds and largest tourist attractions because of its whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, outdoor sports and natural beauty. This designation will increase its international recognition by highlighting West Virginia’s world-class beauty and resources. Over the last two years we have met with outdoorsmen, businesses and local leaders and other interested groups to ensure 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,” said Ranking Member Manchin.

“The New River Gorge is such an important part of West Virginia and a real source of pride in our state. I am thrilled legislation redesignating the National River as a National Park and Preserve is included in this legislative package. 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. I’m grateful to all of the West Virginians—sportsmen, business owners, and constituents—for their feedback and involvement during this entire process. Throughout all of these discussions, it has become clear that this redesignation would bring enormous benefits to the region and those who call it home. I look forward to a strong bipartisan vote on this so we can send this to President Trump’s desk for his signature,” Senator Capito said.

BACKGROUND:

Senators Manchin and Capito introduced the New River Gorge Park and Preserve Designation Act in October 2019 to preserve and help grow the vibrant outdoor recreation industry on the New River. The legislation will maintain hunting and fishing within the preserve area and specifically protects hunting, fishing, and trapping on privately owned land —areas where sportsmen currently enjoy these traditions.

Since originally introduced, the legislation has been amended based on local feedback. It would:

·      Create a 65,165 acre Preserve and a 7,021-acre Park.

·      Open up 368 acres to hunting in Grandview for the first time ever.

·      Keeps open 301 acres of the Lower Gorge following the requests of local hunters.

·      Authorize the National Park System (NPS) to bid on additional land for the Preserve that amounts to 3,711 acres.

·      Authorizes the NPS to acquire up to 100 acres for parking only, which is needed as the area has seen an increase in visitors.

For full text of the legislation, click here.

To view images of the maps, click here.

To view a one-pager on the bill, click here.

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

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