FAYETTE COUNTY, W.V. (WOWK) – This week, a final vote will take place in the Senate on a plan to spend $9.5 billion for backlogged repairs and upgrades in our national parks. This includes about $20 million worth of maintenance work to the New River Gorge National River.
“The outdoors is great for Republicans, Democrats, Independents … and those who use it and those who don’t. So that’s the beauty of it,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said.
A piece of legislation co-written by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin called “The Great American Outdoors Act” would award billions to our National Park Service.
And millions to the Mountain State.
“What this would do is provide funding for our visitor facilities … campgrounds … trails … roads … ,” said Eve West, public information officer for West Virginia National Park Service.
The New River Gorge National River is a landmark in West Virginia. Many would like to see it designated as a national park
“We’ve got aging facilities and we have growing visitors – about 1.3 million visitors between all three parks,” West said.
In addition to the growing number of visitors, in 2019, the attraction brought more than $60.5 million into the local economy, over $70 million in economic benefits and almost 900 jobs.
And yet …
“We have millions of dollars in deferred maintenance,” West said.
Eve West, who works for the National Park Service, says this funding will go to several different maintenance projects on the property.
“Conservation buildings need new roofs,” West said. “We have vibrates to Grand View that need rehab and restoration. Historic structures that need gutter work. Our print store needs some work as well.”
She says there are also a lot of historical landmarks here that need constant maintenance too. The goal – to keep the park up and running, so tourism can continue growing too.
“That’s part of our mandate as the National Park Service, we have to provide access and enjoyment to the public,” West said.
Last week, following a presentation by Manchin on the Senate floor, the Senate voted 80-17 to end discussion and avoid amendments to the act.
The final vote on the legislation will take place this week.