Did you know there's a movement afoot for the creation of a new national park in West Virginia? I caught wind of the proposed High Allegheny National Park on The Goat last night.
Apparently, at the request of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, the National Park Service is looking into the creation of a National Park that would encompass parts of the Monongahela National Forest, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area and the Otter Creek Wilderness Area. According to the Friends of High Allegheny National Park website, most of the land in the propsed park is already federally owned, so implementation costs will be minimal.
The new park would include the headwaters of the Potomac, Monongahela, and Greenbrier Rivers, several Civil War sites, as well as portions of the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, a National Scenic Byway. There will also be plenty of outdoor opportunities, including hiking, paddling and cross-country skiing.
There is some concern among many West Virginians that their right to hunt and fish on the existing national forest lands would be curbed. However, in a recent blog posting on the The Charleston Gazette website, John McCoy states that he received a phone call from Marni Goldberg, press secretary for Sen. Manchin, who explained that "Sen. Manchin would never support legislation that might curb hunting in West Virginia’s mountain highlands or anywhere else. She said Manchin was willing to consider the area as a preserve, but not as a full-fledged national park."
The Friends of High Allegheny National Park further explains the issue with this statement on their website: "Interconnecting public lands will be Preserve Areas, where hunting will be allowed".
According to an NPS press release published last week, a survey will be conducted during most of 2012 to determine whether the "project area" meets criteria for designation as a National Park.