Caroline MacGregor Published

Save Coonskin Park Petitions FAA With More Than 11,000 Signatures 

A group of people in green shirts stand in front of a park shelter
Save Coonskin Park, is petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration to save the park from losing land for a runway extension at Yeager Airport.
Credit/Save Coonskin Park

Save Coonskin Park, collected 11,087 signatures for a petition which was submitted this week to the Federal Aviation Authority and public officials in opposition to a proposed runway extension at West Virginia International Yeager Airport. 

The tentative proposal by the FAA to acquire more than 400 acres of Coonskin Park for a valley “fill area” would make way for an expansion as part of Yeager’s Airfield, Safety, and Terminal Improvement project.

Opponents feel it will destroy a local tourist attraction.

If approved, the loss of public land would affect woodland trails like the Coonskin Branch hollow which is featured on the state’s list of waterfall trails. 

There’s also the potential loss of the Kanawha Valley Railroad Association Museum and concerns about the Elk River, a source of drinking water for nine counties.

Scott Hill, whose family lives on Keystone Drive in Charleston, the site of airport landslides in 1969 and 2015, said the airport has a “terrible record” when it comes to landslides. 

“They’ve never made it right,” Hill said. “And now they want to put all that dirt hanging over the Elk River, that’s another disaster waiting to happen.”

Last week, the FAA pledged $2.29 million in grant money for a third phase of their Environmental Impact Study to consider alternative ways to extend the runway and shift the parallel taxiway. 

According to members of the group, if approved, Yeager’s proposal would destroy the entire Upper Park including the Alice Knight Memorial (Grotto) area.