FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin will make their much-anticipated return on Saturday to talk about the New River Gorge becoming a National Park and Preserve.
While the preserve aspect is designed to keep some private lands open to hunting, fishing and trapping, outdoorsmen will lose almost 5,000 acres of hunting land and that’s something Larry Case, an avid hunter and retired DNR officer, cannot sit back and watch happen.
“Why do we have to go anywhere else? This is our land, you see. That’s a big part of this. All of this public land whether it be national forests or this park service administered land behind me, it belongs to us,” he said. “It doesn’t belong to the politicians. This is national public land for us to hunt and fish as we please, and it’s been that way since 1978, and we don’t see any reason to change.”
On the other side, the change could bring more people and exposure to the area which is why a company like Adventures on the Gorge wants it to happen.
“We’re 100% for it,” CEO Roger Wilson said. “This is something, it’d be great for the tourism industry. It’d be great for this part of the state and it’s not just for us. It’s for everybody. Every community. This is a great chance to get West Virginia on the National Park map.”
Both Case and Wilson will be in attendance on Saturday, and so will Charles Mooney, a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who wants to see it taken off the table or at least find some common ground and some evidence to suggest more people would come to this specific area.
He says it’s been comparing apples and oranges when it comes to talking about tourism booms in other parks.
“We need a comprehensive study on that and to be honest, I think we’re putting the cart before the horse on this,” Mooney said. “The parking areas are already pretty jam-packed with vehicles and day users and right now. The park has no money to be able to expand those areas.”
The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Field Hearing will take place on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Tamarack in the Governor Hulett C. Smith Theater.