Associated Press Published

Southern West Virginia National Parks Help Local Economy

Its 1,700-foot arch made it the longest single-span arch bridge in the world.

The National Park Service says southern West Virginia’s three national parks contributed more than $64 million in benefits to the local economy in 2015.

Economists with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed visitor spending at parks across the nation, including the New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area.

The report says people visiting the three West Virginia parks spent more than $56 million in nearby communities in 2015. That spending supported 846 jobs.

Together, the parks drew more than 1.3 million visitors in 2015.

Nationwide, the report says 31 percent of visitor spending was for lodging, followed by food and beverages at about 20 percent.