Senator Manchin and Interior Secretary Haaland conclude W.Va. tour at New River Gorge National Park

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. (WVVA) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wrapped up a tour of West Virginia with Sen. Joe Manchin on Saturday at New River Gorge State Park. The pair talked about a range of investments aimed at renovating the park, as well as abandoned coal mines across the state.

Since its designation as a national park, Manchin says the New River Gorge has seen a 60% increase in visitors.

“I don’t know if a national park has ever taken off like this,” Manchin said. He added that parks typically see a 20-25% increase after moving to a national park.

“People are coming,” Manchin said. “They are not slowing down. They will come more and more because it’s accessible, it’s easy to get here.

Along with the influx, Manchin and Haaland spoke of millions of federal dollars earmarked to help the park handle new visitors.

“We are proud that the department is making an estimated $9.2 million investment in the New River Gorge and adjoining units this year,” Haaland said.

These estimated funds are expected to include $1.5 million to connect local trails to the park and $1.8 million to revamp the visitor center, as well as infrastructure, travel accommodations and more.

“The act provides for a new five-year federal ground transportation program authorization … which will help fund planned road and trail work,” Haaland said.

The couple also spoke about abandoned coal mines, which they said the state would soon see $6 billion invested in orphan wells to stop methane leaks, as well as $11 billion spent on renovating abandoned mines. .

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Betty K. Park