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W.Va. parks to spend $42 million on infrastructure improvements

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Since Governor Jim Justice took office, the state parks system has invested over $100 million in infrastructure improvements with plans to do more.

Last month, state lawmakers approved the governor’s proposal to spend $42 million in budget surplus funds on state park expansion and renovations.

The state will build 230 new campsites at three state parks and two state forests. Twenty new cabins are going in at Coopers Rock State Forest and 25 new tree house cabins will be built at Beech Fork State Park. New bathhouses are also going in at every park.

“Hopefully we get all these repairs done and will continue to have enough revenue to invest back into the system. Ultimately, we want the parks system to be self sufficient,” said Steve McDaniel, director of the state Division of Natural Resources.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, McDaniel said it will be important to provide sites where big campers or RVs can pull off the interstate.

“The pandemic definitely has gotten people outside and reintroduced to the outdoors and what better place to do that than in West Virginia?” McDaniel asked on last week’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The system has reached maximum capacity and can barely offer any campsites or cabins on upcoming weekends now that they’ve made the switch to online.

“We have an opportunity to reach 10 million visitors. That’s a 40 percent increase of where we were three or four years ago,” McDaniel said.

There will be new connecter tails that will link the Hatfield-McCoy Trails at Chief Logan and Twin Falls Resort State Parks with lodging. More than 350 cabins will also be remodeled.

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