Congress Approves $4.5 Million for Three West Virginia Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 28, 2005
Contact:   Joy Oakes, NPCA, 202-454-3386


Congress Approves $4.5 Million for Three West Virginia Parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Interior fiscal year 2006 spending bill passed by the conference committee this week includes $4.5 million to buy lands critical to three national parks in West Virginia, and includes a modest increase for park operations. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) calls the provision of these funds to acquire land vital for the protection of the national parks in West Virginia.

“We are grateful for Senator Robert Byrd’s tireless and successful efforts to protect and enhance America’s priceless national heritage,” said Joy Oakes, NPCA’s Mid-Atlantic regional director. “With national parks in West Virginia threatened by development both inside and alongside their boundaries, these funds are timely and necessary for the future integrity of these popular parks.”

The conference committee approved $2 million for land acquisition from willing sellers at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in the Eastern Panhandle; $2 million for the New River Gorge National River near Beckley; and $500,000 for the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

“National parks in West Virginia protect priceless natural and cultural treasures, and support local economies,” said Oakes. “Visitors at New River alone last year spent more than $61 million, supporting more than 1,300 jobs.”

National parks in West Virginia are under unprecedented pressure from proposed development, which threatens privately owned lands inside the parks’ boundaries. There are two active development proposals to build up to 2,700 houses at and alongside New River, potentially affecting more than 1,000 acres inside the park’s boundary. In June, the Jefferson County Planning Commission denied, in a 5-4 vote, a proposed subdivision inside the boundary of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

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