FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito was in Fayette County on Tuesday to promote legislation that, if passed, would change the New River Gorge’s designation from the “New River Gorge National River” to the “New River Gorge National Park.”
Capito visited Lansing to announce a grant for the New River Gorge Canyon Rim Center. Later, she was at Water Stone Outdoors in Fayetteville for a discussion of the legislative proposal and other business and tourism-related matters affecting Fayette County residents. She then continued the discussion during an appearance at ACE Resort in Oak Hill. While in Fayetteville, Capito predicted that a national park designation from the federal government would produce substantially more tourism-related revenue for the region.
“When we get the national park designation, it brings in between 20 and 25% more people, which means that’s more people that want to rock climb, that want to eat here in Fayetteville, that want to purchase merchandise,” said Capito, who anticipated that businesses such as Water Stone Outdoors would be the beneficiaries of an unprecedented level of economic activity in Fayetteville and the surrounding community.
“Waterstone’s been here 25 years, and we want to see that they’re here the next 25 years, and with the proximity to the east coast and a lot of the population centers there, I think the future here is very bright…I was talking to the superintendent at the park. She has seasonal workers, I think maybe a third of her workers are seasonal workers that end, usually, end of October because of the leaf season. There’s no reason that we can’t expand that,” she said.
The legislation was introduced in early October,and would affect more than 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River. The river has been a unit of the National Park Service since the agency’s creation in 1978. The name change would apply only to the New River, and would not include the Gauley River National Recreation Area or the Bluestone National Scenic River, which are National Park Service properties.
There has been no stated opposition to the proposal among current members of the U.S. Senate.