The new federal stimulus relief package includes pandemic-related aid, as well as other end of year business, including a new national park designation for southern West Virginia.
The New River Gorge will be redesignated from a National River to a National Park and Preserve, making it the 63rd national park in the country and 20th preserve. It was announced in a press call Monday with West Virginia’s U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito.
Capito, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller originally brought forth the proposal in 2019, arguing that such a designation could boost tourism in West Virginia.
Outdoor recreation is a $9 billion industry in the state, and that the redesignation to national park status can increase the number of visits by 21 percent, Capito said.
“This is going to be such a major investment in tourism in West Virginia,” she told reporters Monday. “Being a national park is a gold stamp of approval and excellence.”
The new national park and preserve designation of the New River Gorge will include about 6,000 acres of the nearly 73,000 acres of federal land. The area was originally designated a national river in 1978.
The New River Gorge National Park and Preserver Designation Act is a part of the Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and pandemic relief package passed Monday night.