May 13, 2019

New River Gorge May Become A National Park And Preserve Rather Than A National Park | The Clarksburg Exponent Telegram

CHARLESTON —  The idea to turn the New River Gorge into a National Park may now lead to legislation to make the area a Park and Preserve instead.

WV MetroNews reports that the idea to turn the 70,000 acre New River Gorge area into a National Park evolved into an idea to make the area a Park and Preserve, due to concern over the infringement of hunting rights in the area. The bill introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, included hunting rights, but National Parks do not typically allow hunting unless there is a need to control the population of certain game.

Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, met with leaders of several major sportsman's groups to discuss the idea. Manchin said he would possibly back the Park and Preserve model, but not the idea of a National Park alone, since it would forbid hunting in the area, WV MetroNews reports.

Sen. Captio said that there will still be 50,000 plus acres available for hunting in the Park and Preserve model.

Concern was raised regarding the loss of 5,000 acres of hunting area within the 70,000 acre area of land that will be included in the bill. When a bill to create the National River came about in the 1970's, sportsmen lost the opportunity to trap along in the National River area, because the bill lacked specific language allowing trapping, WV MetroNews reported.

WV MetroNews reports that the president of the West Virginia Bowhunters Association, Justin Hettick, said it is possible that sportsmen would be more willing to back the legislation if trapping was allowed to take place in the area again.

Under a Park and Preserve model, hunting will only be cut back somewhat 5,000 acres of mostly areas of cultural or historic significance and landmarks being protected and within National Park boundaries, such as the town of Thurmond, Grandview, Sandstone Falls and the New River Gorge Bridge and areas within view of it, WV MetroNews reports.

WV MetroNews reports that Sen. Manchin has recruited a veteran bill writer, to help make sure the correct language is included in the bill.


By:  Staff Writers