Mid-Atlantic Field Office - West Virginia
From the Civil War battlefields and civil rights history of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to the powerful rivers and wild beauty of the New River Gorge National River, the Gauley National Recreation Area, and the Bluestone National Scenic River, our national parks showcase the cultural heritage and natural beauty of West Virginia. These parks protect some of the wildest places in the eastern half of the United States, and host not only an impressive array of plant and animal biodiversity, but hold many keys to our shared history.
National parks in West Virginia attract visitors from all over the world. More than 1.7 million people visit national parks in West Virginia each year, generating more than $59 million in spending and supporting 1,765 jobs (1).
West Virginia’s cultural treasures and hotbeds of biodiversity are at risk due to incompatible development and chronic under-funding. Nationwide, the National Park Service operates on a $750-million annual funding shortfall. As a result, New River Gorge, where the river has flowed for millions of years, faces threats from development on adjacent lands and difficult issues related to water quality. Harpers Ferry’s history and beauty are under siege by proposed residential and commercial development.
By empowering local citizens, community leaders, organization and elected officials to implement innovative strategies and tactics that advance park advocacy, NPCA is building an active, effective constituency protecting and preserving our national parks in West Virginia. Below are a few strategies we use to help build support for and help protect West Virginia's parks.
- Working with park neighbors: NPCA works to understand and advocate for issues that are important both to the communities that surround the park and to the future health of the park. For example, water quality and adjacent land use were a major issues of concern to the local communities involved in the New River Gorge National River general management plan. NPCA is working with communities and stakeholders to proactively address these issues.
- Building key allies: We augment our ability to preserve national parks by working strategically with other organizations, community leaders, and other influential individuals. At Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, those groups include the Friends of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry Conservancy, Jefferson County Branch of the NAACP, numerous buisness owners, and many local elected officials.
- Building public support for park protection and funding: NPCA employs targeted communication strategies to increase awareness among state residents of national park issues, including federal funding shortfalls, land acquisition needs, resource protection needs, and park benefits to communities. One such project includes the screening of the Patagonia Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival in schools in Fayette County, near the New River Gorge National River. NPCA parters with a local watershed organization, Plateau Action Network, and local high school students to produce and promote the show. During the show local high school students learn about their local national park units, how they can work with NPCA to help protect them, and are invited to participate in a volutenteer day in the park.
(1) Stynes, Daniel J. National Park Visitor Spending and Payroll Impacts, 2007. Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies, Michigan State University. September 2008.