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Leaders and business owner react to New River Gorge’s National Park designation

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FAYETTE COUNTY W. VA. (WVVA) - The shift from National River to National Park and Preserve is expected to seriously increase visitor traffic into the New River Gorge.

Sharon Cruikshank, the Mayor of Fayetteville, said she is looking forward to having the newest national park in the country, in the town's back yard.

"We're excited with the New River Gorge National River being updated to a National Park and Preserve," said Cruikshank. "We feel that will bring a lot into West Virginia and the Fayetteville area especially Fayette County, as well as the whole New River Gorge area."

The uptick in visitors is expected to generate more revenue for businesses like Bridge Walk, which offers guided tours along the underbelly of the New River Gorge Bridge.

Doug Coleman, a tour guide at Bridge Walk, said having more tourists, will have an impact on the whole region.

"The national park designation will, we anticipate, bring in more people, more guests and will not only help the business I work for, but the restaurants [and] hotels. It's a win win all across the board," said Coleman.

The New River Gorge National Park will see some changes with this designation.

The park will be composed of four areas, totaling more than 7,000 acres including: the lower gorge, Thurmond, Grandview, and Sandstone Falls.

It will also offer changes in hunting land as 368 acres along the river in Grandview will be opened up for hunting for the first time ever, and 301 acres of the lower gorge will be kept open for hunting also.

The legislation creating the new national park also authorizes the national park service to acquire 100 acres from willing sellers to be designated for parking to accommodate the anticipated increase in visitors to the gorge.

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Maria Sellers

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