|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||September 23, 2005|
|Contact:||Erin Haddix, NPCA, 202-454-3916, 202-744-3532 (cell)
Send the West Virginia Quarter Back to the Mint
No one would allow huge subdivisions along the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. Huge subdivisions are just as unacceptable on the Grand Canyon of the New River.
Officials in Fayette County and the town of Fayetteville recently granted preliminary approvals of two developments totaling more than 2,600 houses in or directly adjacent to New River Gorge. Officials could grant developers final zoning approval as early as next week, despite strong concerns expressed by local business owners, residents, park visitors from across the country, and the National Park Service.
The park’s spectacular views and recreational opportunities may be compromised by these developments, jeopardizing what has been an economic engine for the region. In 2004, park visitors spent more than $60 million at local businesses. Park Service analyses show that houses likely will be visible to those driving over the bridge and from viewing points throughout the park.
Established in 1978, the New River Gorge National River’s enabling legislation expressly called on local governments to be partners in protecting the gorge’s natural and cultural resources. After years of reasonable and protective zoning, local officials are now handing over the future of the gorge to the Atlanta-based Land Resources Company, whose developments in Georgia are being litigated due to threats they pose to valued natural resources, and to a second developer willing to spoil the view from the New River bridge.
Development and park protection can go hand-in-hand. But right now, development has the upper hand. Local officials have another chance to protect the multi-million dollar views shown on the West Virginia state quarter, so the coin won’t be obsolete before it’s issued.