National parks draw 1.7M visitors to West Virginia in 2017

The Free Press WV

A new report shows the national parks in West Virginia drew 1.7 million visitors last year.

The National Park Service report said visitors to the state’s national parks in 2017 spent $72.8 million in nearby communities, resulting in economic output totaling $84 million.

The spending supported 1,080 jobs and $28.8 million in labor income.

The National Parks of Southern West Virginia brought 1.3 million of the visitors, who spent $56 million in the region. New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area span four counties: Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh and Summers.

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 .

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