The Conservation Fund, National Park Service celebrate addition of 963 acres
WV Press Release Sharing
SANDSTONE, W.Va. — The Conservation Fund and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) today announced the addition of 963 acres to the preserve portion of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve near Sandstone, West Virginia.
The added acres, which are poised to greatly increase the amount of public land available for hunting and outdoor recreation activities while yielding a variety of other public benefits, are in an area commonly known as Irish Mountain. This historically significant swath of land is known for its links to Irish immigrants who settled locally in the late 1800s. The land was acquired by The Conservation Fund in November 2021 and was recently transferred to NPS with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. Representative Carol Miller, National Park Service Director Charles Sams and Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism Chelsea Ruby joined federal, state, local and private partners at a celebratory event today at the National Park and Preserve to dedicate the newly added land.
“Since its redesignation in 2020, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve has continued to grow, creating additional opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. “Today’s announcement that 963 acres in the Irish Mountain area will be added to the preserve is great news for the entire Mountain State and the visitors from around the world who come to enjoy our cherished park. I commend The Conservation Fund for its work to ensure this historic and culturally significant piece of land is protected for future generations. Announcements like this are part of the reason I worked to ensure permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund — to protect and conserve our public lands and provide important hunting and fishing opportunities for all Americans.”
“When I drafted the bill redesignating the New River Gorge National River as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, I knew that the redesignation would have a positive economic impact on the region, but I also recognize the importance of looking out for the sportsmen and sportswomen of West Virginia,” said U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito. “Throughout the process, I hosted roundtables with hunting and fishing groups to assure them that I would defend the longstanding tradition of these activities around the New River Gorge. Before the bill even passed, The Conservation Fund’s West Virginia team told me that they would expand the preserve for the sportsmen community by utilizing the LWCF process. I am beyond thankful for the efforts of The Conservation Fund and all of the work that they put in to make this 963-acre land acquisition possible. I am committed to continuing to enhance the New River Gorge experience for visitors and sportsmen, and I look forward to working alongside partners like The Conservation Fund to do so.”
“Adding new land to New River Gorge National Park is a win for West Virginia,” said U.S. Representative Carol Miller. “These additional 963 acres will provide more recreational opportunities and economic growth, while preserving our rich history and culture. Last year, New River Gorge National Park had a record number of visitors, and with this addition of land, more people will be able to enjoy its beauty. West Virginia is truly a wild and wonderful place, and I look forward to visiting this new stretch in our first national park.”
Through thoughtful acquisition from two willing sellers, this project will permanently protect a significant portion of the park’s existing views and character for both residents and visitors alike.
“This section of land will be a great addition to the national preserve portion of the park where hunting is allowed,” said New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Superintendent Charles Sellars. “Formerly the largest private landholding within the park’s authorized boundary, it will both enhance the recreational opportunities in this section of the park and preserve views of the largest waterfall on the entire New River.”
First established in 1978 as a national river and later redesignated as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the park offers abundant scenic and recreational opportunities while highlighting its cultural and natural history. The New River — a rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons — is among the oldest rivers on the North American continent.
“The familiar John Denver lyric, ‘Life is old there, older than the trees,’ is emblematic for the New River Gorge,” said The Conservation Fund Vice President and West Virginia Director Joe Hankins. “This is a place with ancient geology, a cultural history of immigration, hard work and community — and a river that flows through the very heart of West Virginia. The Conservation Fund is honored to help assure that a family land legacy will continue, now permanently conserved and newly made part of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. We are grateful to the congressional delegation for the LWCF funding and to the Department of the Interior and National Park Service for the partnership to preserve this special place.”
The protection of this land was made possible by the federal LWCF, which was fully and permanently funded by the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020. LWCF is a bipartisan program that conserves ecologically and economically valuable land across the U.S., including many of West Virginia’s iconic natural places. West Virginia’s federal congressional delegation representing the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Representative Carol Miller — supported the use of federal funding for this project and led the successful effort to redesignate the area as a National Park and Preserve.
Clearly visible from the river and the east bank of New River, land within the added parcel extends steeply up in elevation from 1,600 feet to 2,700 feet, offering a sweeping view of the upper river canyon. Additionally, this acreage will conserve the resources and natural beauty as well as protect the traditional recreational opportunities for which New River Gorge National Park and Preserve was established.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres of land, including over 112,000 acres in West Virginia. conservationfund.org
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 424 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.