WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced the Department of the Interior will provide $7 million in funding for the construction of a new Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Since entering the Senate in 2015, Senator Capito has worked to secure funding for the project—writing several letters to and conducting numerous meetings and calls with officials at Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Securing funding for a new visitor center at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge has been a top priority of mine for a very long time,” Senator Capito said. “An analysis found that the current facility is in an ‘undesirable condition,’ and I have worked to make sure we have a facility that not only is safe but will help the refuge grow. I look forward to continuing to work with federal, state, and local leaders throughout this process to ensure this project meets the goals and needs of West Virginians and anyone who enjoys and appreciates the natural beauty at Canaan Valley.”
“When I spoke with Senator Capito in our last hearing on Capitol Hill, I promised her that we would get this done,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. “So today, with this funding for the Visitor Center at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I am keeping that promise to the Senator and to the people of West Virginia. President Trump is a builder, and I am proud to stand with the President on rebuilding our nation's infrastructure, including the infrastructure on our public lands. I look forward to working with Senator Capito on other shared West Virginia priorities.”
In its FY2018 Budget Justification plan, the Department of the Interior outlined how it will spend the funds provided in the recent omnibus for Fish and Wildlife Service Construction. The plan includes $7 million for the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and Administrative Building.
Below is a timeline of Senator Capito’s efforts to secure this funding:
- May 2015 – Senator Capito visits the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge with Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
- July 2015 – Senator Capito sends a letter to FWS urging that the construction of a new visitor center at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge be prioritized in upcoming budget plans.
- August 2015 – FWS sends a letter to Senator Capito reiterating that they did not have adequate funding in the FY2016 budget but would continue working with Senator Capito on this issue through the budget process.
- September 2015 – Senator Capito again visits the visitor center with staff.
- December 2015 – Senator Capito speaks with FWS Regional Director Weber about funding for construction of the new visitor center in the agency’s upcoming budget. She also hosts a follow-up call with Weber on the funding issue.
- February 2016 – Senator Capito raises this issue with then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell during an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Department of the Interior’s FY2017 budget.
- June 2017 – Senator Capito raises the need for a new visitor center with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at an Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.
- November 2017 – The FY2018 Interior appropriations legislation includes the following language authored by Senator Capito: “Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.—The Committee recognizes the importance of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and understands the need raised by the community for a new visitor’s center at the refuge to help promote conservation, education, and visitors services in the Canaan Valley. The Committee also understands the Service prioritizes and invests limited construction resources based on Department-wide criteria. The Committee urges the Service to prioritize funding for the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and consider submitting a request for a new visitor center in its fiscal year 2019 budget.”
- March 2018 – The Omnibus Appropriations Act contains the following report language authored by Senator Capito: “Visitor Services. The Committees encourage the [FWS] to consider prioritizing funding for a new visitor center at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.”
- April 2018 – Senator Capito again meets with Regional Director Weber.
- May 2018 – Senator Capito discusses the need for a new visitor center with Secretary Zinke at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing and asks why the project has not been prioritized.
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