Report Nov 14, 2023

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve: An Outdoor Mecca Driving Business Growth and Entrepreneurship

Full Report (1.54 MB)

Carved through the Appalachian Mountains, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve tells the story of one of the world’s oldest rivers, shares the coal mining history of its neighbors, and embodies some of the most diverse habitats that have emerged through time.

A mecca for adventure seekers, outdoor enthusiasts, and emerging explorers of all ages, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve strengthens the local economy and serves as the backyard for the communities in the region. The national park provides more to the region than just outdoor recreation, serving as a driver for the local economy and a bold contributor to the State of West Virginia.

In 2023, the National Parks Conservation Association partnered with Jon Stover & Associates, an economic development consulting firm, to conduct research on the economic, fiscal, and social impacts of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This report provides an overview of the ways in which the national park supports the local economy, generates jobs, and contributes to the fiscal tax base. The impacts of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve extend beyond the flow of dollars and, importantly, provide an abundance of activity and scenic landscape for the broader community and the State of West Virginia.

It also produces recommendations for protecting, enhancing, and leveraging the park and growing the positive benefits created by New River Gorge. These include:

  1. Helping coal communities successfully transition to emerging growth sections through outdoor recreation.
  2. Investing in collaborative solutions to improve water quality in the Lower New River.
  3. Filling gaps in park resources by leveraging federal funding to improve the visitor experience and protect the park as visitation increases.
  4. Enhancing data collection and distribution to inform tourism and collaborative economic development.
  5. Leveraging nature-based placemaking by supporting surrounding community infrastructure to celebrate the region’s authenticity and the uniqueness of its communities.
  6. Bolstering state and regional initiatives and efforts aimed by enhancing and promoting West Virginia’s outdoor recreation assets while promoting the natural resources of the park and the region.

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