BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Governor Jim Justice and other leaders with the West Virginia State Park system on Friday unveiled an array of new improvements to the West Virginia State Park System.

Using Audra State Park in Barbour County as the backdrop, the Governor showed off some of the improvements and expanded campsites added for the enjoyment of West Virginians and out of state visitors.

“Our state parks and forests are a cornerstone of West Virginia’s tourism industry and improving the way people plan their trip is going to make visiting Almost Heaven that much more of a memorable experience,” Governor Jim Justice said.

Part of the improvements will be a new on-line camping registration system which gives prospective campers assurance they’ll have a campsite when they drive to their destination.

“Instead of having to hook up the camper and load up their stuff and rive to a park in hopes they’ll find a spot, now they’ll be able to have a spot for sure,” said Sam England, Chief of the West Virginia State Parks System.

For years, camping reservations for West Virginia State Parks have been done via the U.S. Mail. Those postal reservations will be discontinued May 1, although any reservations still in effect which were made by mail will still be honored. Campers will now be able to reserve any available spot at any park and at any time during the year, which is another significant change. Starting May 1st reservations for campsites can be made online a year in advance.

Additionally, according to England, the system will enable the public to reserve popular picnic shelters at any state park on line as well.

“It’s one of those things where picnicking is really popular and connects families,” England said.

The Friday afternoon announcement was part of a much larger overall State Park upgrade which included a new and more functional website and physical improvements to nearly all State Park Camping areas.

“We’ve done a good job of listening to the public and making changes that make it easier and provides information,” England said. “We’re also in a three year program of expending $60 Million in bond funds and making improvements at all parks.”

Among those improvements unveiled Friday was $3.5 Million in camping area upgrades at 16 state parks and forests. Those projects range from bathhouse upgrades to electrical improvements at the following parks and forests: Audra, Babcock, Beech Fork, Blackwater Falls, Bluestone, Cabwaylingo, Camp Creek, Cedar Creek, Chief Logan, Coopers Rock, Holly River, Kanawha, Moncove Lake, Twin Falls, Tygart, and Watoga.

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