Earlier last month, federal officials stopped by the Canyon Rim Visitor Center in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve to discuss improving infrastructure in the park. Environmental protection in the years to come is also part of the ongoing discussions.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va) and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland traveled to Fayette County to talk about ongoing improvements to the park. Through a bipartisan omnibus bill, a commitment to the NRGNPP will include a Home Office investment of $9.2 million in 2022, Haaland said that day.
“It continues to be a very exciting time for the park,” says Leslie Reynolds, acting superintendent of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. “…we appreciate that Secretary of the Interior Haaland and Senator Manchin visited NERI and thank them for their continued support.
“Collaboration with local communities is essential to the success of the park. We look forward to collaborating with our local communities, partnerships and stakeholders.”
Manchin and Haaland also mentioned that the fiscal year 2022 funding bill includes $1.5 million awarded to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority for a trail connectivity project in Fayette County.
“The 1.5 million was provided, not to the park, but to the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority for trail connectivity to the park in Fayette County,” Reynolds said. “The park plans on-going engagement with communities as they begin work on the trails.
“Funding for the trail will connect cities to the park and we look forward to working together to ensure its success.”
Haaland also noted that an investment of $1.8 million will strengthen the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. “The park has received $1.8 million to fund the design and production of new visitor center exhibits slated for installation next year,” Reynolds said. “This funding came from the nationwide 20% recreation fee funding source and had already been funded.”
“The funding that Secretary Haaland mentioned (during her visit) was not just for New River, but for other nearby park sites as well,” Reynolds said. “Ongoing NERI projects are being funded through a variety of funding sources. They include the Rend Trail and Kaymoor Trail projects, the Trail Bridge Replacement Projects and the replacement of playground equipment at Grandview, as well as the replacement of exhibits at Canyon Rim.”
Haaland added that funding for climate resilience and legacy pollution cleanup initiatives will be provided. Haaland said his department is also focused on supporting the expansion of the outdoor recreation economy in the future.
Reynolds said park officials continue to plan park infrastructure projects under the Great American Outdoors Act. “The park will be notified of future years’ projects selected for various funding sources at the appropriate time,” she said. “The park continues to work on funded projects and is actively positioning itself to be competitive for future projects.”
In a March 14 press release, the board and staff of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) expressed their gratitude to its congressional delegation during the approval of the Consolidated Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2022, which includes several community and economic development projects in Fayette. , Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers counties.
“From aerospace and aviation training to outdoor textiles and trail development, to much-needed health services, water and sewer upgrades, and home repairs, the West Virginia Congressional Delegation responded to the priorities of the region,” said Jina Belcher, executive director of NRGRDA. “We are grateful to have such dedicated public servants representing us and providing a wealth of federal resources.”
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