On September 14th, with assistance from the West Virginia office of The Nature Conservancy, the United States purchased approximately 618 acres at New River Gorge National River for $980,000. Congress appropriated the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which receives revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.
The property is located underneath the New River Gorge Bridge on river left, and it stretches approximately 5.6 miles downriver to Hawks Nest State Park. A large portion of this property was added to the park boundary with legislation enacted in 2002.
Gary Driggs, owner and developer of adjacent Bridgeview Estates, sold the land to the USA. Driggs constructed a network of trails through the 618-acre parcel that connects with Bridgeview Estates, providing a recreational enhancement for the subdivision residents.
"This purchase is critical to New River Gorge National River in many ways,” said Superintendent Don Striker. “Protecting these large, intact forests is crucial to protecting the gorge. But it also will allow us to add six miles to the through-the-park trail, which will eventually stretch 100 miles through the park."
Bridge Day, occurring on the third Saturday in October, is the one time of the year New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrians and closed to vehicle traffic, and this willing seller purchase will help preserve the view on the southeast slope of the canyon downriver from the bridge, which is shown on the West Virginia State Quarter.
Here's a flavor of what Bridge Day is all about:
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