07.15.19

PHOTOS: Capito Joins Interior Secretary at Canaan Valley

Visits National Wildlife Refuge to tour construction of new visitors’ center, highlight increased recreational opportunities

DAVIS, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to tour the construction of a new multi-use facility at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and meet with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) employees and refuge stakeholders. 

“Securing funding for this new visitor center was a big priority of mine for a long time, and I’m thrilled to see this effort finally coming to completion,” Senator Capito said. “From attracting new visitors—which also helps drive economic growth—to making it easier for West Virginians and anyone else visiting our state to enjoy and appreciate this area’s natural beauty, this new center is going to be such an asset to the refuge and to our state.” 

“It was great to see the progress being made at the new facility at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge with Senator Manchin and Senator Capito. When completed, the new facility will improve government efficiency, support local jobs and the economy in the Canaan Valley, and boost recreational opportunities,” Secretary Bernhardt said. 

The new facility includes a reception and exhibit space and multipurpose room for the public, as well as administrative offices to house staff from the refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) West Virginia Ecological Services field office, and the Office of Law Enforcement. Construction is also underway to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and improve trails at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 

Earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a new economic report titled, Banking on Nature 2017: The Economic Contributions of National Wildlife Refuge Recreational Visitation to Local Communities. According to the report, 53.6 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2017, which had an economic impact of $3.2 billion on local communities and supported more than 41,000 jobs. 


BACKGROUND 

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 included $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.

 

PHOTO1

Senator Capito talks with Secretary Bernhardt and Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a native West Virginian.

 

PHOTO2

Senator Capito, Secretary Bernhardt, and Deputy Director Everson tour the new visitors’ center construction site.

 

PHOTO3

Senator Capito meets a construction worker working on the site.

 

PHOTO4

Senator Capito talks with Jon Bush and Lowell Moore, Tucker County commissioners.

PHOTO5

Senator Capito poses with the staff of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

 

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