KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK)—On Thursday, the Kanawha County Commission announced that it was awarded $675,210 in the form of a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The money will be used for the Upper Kanawha Valley Outdoor Recreation Plan.

The Commission says the grant will be matched with funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Kanawha County Commission, which will bring the total amount allocated for the project to $1.2 million.

“I congratulate the Kanawha County Commission for their work in expanding and creating new businesses that will support an outdoor recreation economy in West Virginia,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Partners like Kanawha County Commission are integral to making our POWER projects come to life, and I look forward to seeing the ways our Appalachian Region continues to grow, thanks to the impact of their work.”

“I want to thank the Appalachian Regional Commission, its Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, and the Benedum Foundation for this opportunity,” said Commissioner Ben Salango. “The Upper Kanawha Valley has been devastated by the downturn in the coal industry and the loss of coal jobs. We have a big vision for the future of the UKV, and this POWER grant is a huge step towards making that vision a reality.”

Commission President W. Kent Carper stated, “The Upper Kanawha Valley has been dealt a terrible hand in recent years, but I believe this award will benefit the residents of the UKV and every town along the Kanawha River – from Marmet to Montgomery. I extend my sincere thanks to Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and the ARC for this award.”

Commissioner Lance Wheeler commented, “This is a wonderful announcement and a great day for Kanawha County and the residents of the Upper Kanawha Valley! This grant will allow the County to pursue economic development and small business growth in the UKV.”

The Kanawha County Commission completed the plan for outdoor recreation-based economic development in 2021. The plan will affect the 30-mile area from just east of Charleston to the town of Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

Plan projects include trail design and development, improved recreational river access, small business growth, and the opening of the Hatfield McCoy Trail System in Kanawha County. The full plan can be viewed here.