West Virginia State Parks anticipate a great camping year in 2018

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s state parks and forests began processing campsite reservations on February 15, in advance of camping season this spring.

“Family camping is one of the quintessential summer pastimes enjoyed by families all over West Virginia,” said West Virginia State Parks District Administrator Matt Yeager. “We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about reservations at our parks and forests, so all indications point to 2018 being a banner year for camping.”

By sending in an application, park guests can make sure they have a campsite reserved during higher-traffic months in the summer. Campgrounds are located at 25 state park areas, many of which also feature lodges, cabins, cottages and swimming pools, and offer planned activities and other outdoor recreation options.

Campgrounds start opening between mid-March and April, depending upon the park and weather. Most campgrounds with reservable campsites are open Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Until the Friday before Memorial Day, campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

After March 15, campsite reservations are taken by phone and by mail. On April 01, walk-in reservations are processed. Reservations for campsites that are accessible to persons with disabilities may be reserved from February 15 through March 15. Applications and information for reservable campsites are available on each state park or forest webpage at

WV Legislation Would Support Healthy Forests and Expanded Recreational Opportunities in WV

The Free Press WV

Restoring and improving the health of West Virginia’s state park lands while creating expanded public recreational opportunities are the goals of West Virginia Senate bill SB270 and its House companion HB4182.

“Through a proper management program implemented in coordination with the Division of Forestry and our state park superintendents, West Virginia state park lands will be maintained in a way that will ensure their health and well-being for years to come,” said Steve McDaniel, Director of the Division of Natural Resources.

Director McDaniel continued, “With the passage of this legislation we can create wildlife habitats, build additional hiking trails and develop additional recreational amenities to offer to our visitors at West Virginia State Parks.”

West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Barry Cook went on to discuss the need for this initiative in terms of the overall health of the woodlands in West Virginia’s State Park System.

“Select state park properties have overmatured to the point that we are in even greater danger due to the accumulation of fuel on the forest floor,” said Cook. “As the woodlands stand today, a lack of access puts the Mountain State at risk of losing all beneficial value of the properties held within these parks.” 

Both the Division of Natural Resources and the Division of Forestry agree the continued undermanagement of these properties will result in a substantial loss to the health and well-being of West Virginia’s woodlands. 

Governor Jim Justice said opponents to the Legislation really aren’t well-informed on the subject and have used scare tactics and untruths to make the public think it is nothing more than a clear-cutting timber operation.

Learn more about the plan at

Tests for Natural Resources Police Officer positions

The Free Press WV

The Law Enforcement Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has scheduled Physical Agility Tests (PAT) for anyone interested in applying for Natural Resources Police Officer (NRPO) positions open statewide.

The tests are scheduled for February 02-03 at the South Charleston Community Center, starting at 9 a.m. Walk-ons are accepted. Applicants are required to take a written exam at the West Virginia State Police Academy, either day at 12:30 p.m. Interviews for successful applicants are scheduled February 14-16. Times and a location will be announced at the PAT.

During the PAT, candidates must complete a 37.5-yard swim, a 1.5 mile run and timed pushups and sit-ups in proper form. Candidates should bring long pants and a shirt for the fully clothed swimming test and a change of clothing for the running test.

Passing the PAT is required to become a Natural Resources Police officer. To be considered, candidates must be willing to relocate and work in any county in the state. They must be willing to work all shifts and be on call. County assignment cannot be guaranteed.

Minimum qualifications include graduation from an accredited four-year college or university. Preference is given to those with majors in natural sciences, law enforcement, criminology or criminal justice. Candidates may substitute previous employment as a certified law enforcement officer.

Natural Resources Police officers have full law enforcement authority in West Virginia, and are responsible for the prompt, orderly and effective enforcement of all laws and rules, including the protection of the state’s natural resources from unlawful activities. Full details about the job and an online application can be found at For more information, contact the WVDNR Law Enforcement Section at 304.558.2784 or email .

Last Native American village in Yosemite being rebuilt

The Free Press WV

The last Native American village in Yosemite Valley, destroyed 40 years ago, is being rebuilt in the same spot so that Miwuk Indian youths can learn about their culture.

Bill Tucker, who is Miwuk and Paiute, said the project is personal.

The 78-year-old Tucker lived in the village that was razed by the National Park Service in the 1960s and says the village “is home.“

“I lived here with my grandma,“ Tucker told the Fresno Bee. “My first child was – she didn’t make it – but it was in this house where my wife had the labor.“

Archaeological evidence shows Native Americans living in Yosemite Valley for at least 7,000 years.

Yosemite’s native community dwindled in the mid-1800s when a battalion of state militia shot, hanged or captured Native Americans and burned their villages. Some fled to the foothills or eastern Sierra and found a way to survive.

More recently, they worked service jobs, were basket weavers and performed traditional dances for park visitors.

Their last village – 15 small cabins near the Camp 4 campground, just down the road from Yosemite Lodge – was gradually leveled as its inhabitants lost seasonal or full-time employment in the park. Those who retained employment were moved into housing elsewhere.

Reconstruction of the village started in 2009 and so far a roundhouse foundation has been built. The project was halted in 2011 because of safety concerns but construction resumed last year after the native community proved the traditional roundhouse met building codes.

It is not clear when the project will be completed.

Tourists will be able to visit the village, although some spiritual ceremonies may only be open to tribal members.

The aim of the village is “to continue our culture and educate our youth, that’s really the bottom line. Educate our youth,“ native elder Les James told the newspaper.

Members of the American Indian Council of Mariposa County/Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation and now-retired Park Service employees asked for their village back in 1977 but it took the federal government four decades to approve it.

“It’s our job as the National Park Service to preserve and protect the park and the resources,“ Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. “But telling the cultural history and telling the story about the Native Americans is equally as important to our mission, not just for us as the National Park Service to tell the story, but to have the tribes and the tribal members tell the story.“

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