Crowd mostly favors bill to redesignate New River Gorge

Photo credit: National Park Service
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FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) — UPDATE (Oct. 10):

A bill to redesignate the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve got a mostly favorable response during the first public meeting on the proposal.

News outlets report some expressed concerns about the amount of hunting land that would be withdrawn under the bill, but a majority of the overflow crowd raised their hands when asked if they support the direction of the bill.

The meeting on Wednesday was hosted by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller.

They said the redesignation was sought because rebranding as a national park is expected to increase visitation without raising costs. Hunting would not be allowed in the area designated as a park, but it would be allowed in the preserve.

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A public meeting is scheduled on a bill to redesignate the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

The Wednesday morning meeting at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center Auditorium will be hosted by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Rep. Carol Miller. Manchin and Capito introduced the bill.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the redesignation was sought because rebranding as a national park increases visitation without raising costs. It says visitation increases due to the assumption that national parks provide high-quality recreation experiences. The bill would redesignate up to 6,000 acres of the federal land's 72,808 acres as a national park competent, where hunting wouldn't be allowed. Hunting would still be allowed in the national preserve component.