Ruby hopeful about national park designation for New River Gorge area

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby is anticipating a sizable impact on the New River Gorge following its designation to become the nation’s 63rd National Park.

West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby

The redesignation language which creates the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve and was in year-end funding legislation that was passed by Congress last week, the legislation was signed by President Donald Trump Sunday night.

“For so many travelers, a national park designation is a stamp of approval, confirmation that that destination is one of the nation’s greatest places and some place you need to see,” Ruby said on a recent MetroNews ‘Talkline’ appearance.

Ruby detailed a projection from the last park to be designation a national park, which happened in Indiana. She said the Indiana Lake Shore being designated in 2018 created a 21% increase in visitation.

She said the New River Gorge will be a centerpiece in tourism campaigns next year to capitalize on the growth.

Ruby added the outdoor recreation sector is growing as a whole in the state.

“With COVID, we have seen a huge resurgence in outdoor recreation nationally but here we are really seeing it. If you have tried to buy a bike or a kayak in West Virginia in the past few months, you know they are not available,” she said.

The language that moved through Congress creates a 65,165-acre preserve where hunting and fishing will be allowed and a 7,021-acre park. It keeps 301 acres of the Lower Gorge open for hunting and opens up 368 acres in Grandview for the first time.


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