Mountwood Park, a popular tourism location in West Virginia, is set to receive federal funds to expand its attractions. Governor Jim Justice and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Harold Ward announced on Wednesday that six projects across the state will benefit from nearly $26 million in federal grant funding for economic development at abandoned mine land sites.
The Mountwood Park Trail Center and Campground Project is slated to receive $2,600,247, which will be used to construct a state-of-the-art trail-side campground and 5-7 miles of new, bike-optimized trails as part of the upcoming Mountaineer Trail Network. Wood County Commission President Blair Couch stated that the park plans to combine these funds with existing resources to spend over $3 million on securing an old family coal mine within the park and building the new family campgrounds in an underutilized area.
The old coal mine, which has been out of use since the late 1800s, is still accessible. Officials are considering turning it into a site for teaching about 19th-century mining practices in the region. Securing the mine is also a priority for safety reasons.
The grant funding is administered by the WVDEP’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation (AML) and provided by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). A committee comprised of representatives from the WVDEP, West Virginia Department of Commerce, West Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Governor’s Office evaluated the grant applications. OSMRE will give the final approval for the projects and amounts awarded.
To qualify for the funding, proposed economic development projects must be located on or adjacent to mine sites that ceased operations before August 3, 1977, when the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act was signed. The new campground at Mountwood Park will be built at the site of the former horse riding campgrounds, which have been closed for some time. Couch revealed that plans include platform tents, possible cabins, and an upgrade of the shower and bath facilities.
For private campground owners and operators, this development may present both challenges and opportunities. They might face increased competition from the new state-of-the-art facility, but could also benefit from the influx of visitors attracted to the region by the new attractions. Collaboration and partnerships between private and public campgrounds might be a key factor in ensuring that all parties can capitalize on the growing tourism industry in the area.
In addition to Mountwood Park, other sites receiving funding are: Cinderella Adventure Resort in Mingo County ($3,080,886); Davis Center Headquarters Facility in Tucker County ($12,500,000); Range 1 Training Facility in McDowell County ($2,058,050); Tap Room Coworking Synergy Center & Apartments in Tucker County ($727,000); and Stonewood I-79 Development in Harrison County ($5,000,000).
These projects will contribute significantly to the economic development of West Virginia and showcase the state’s commitment to revitalizing abandoned mine land sites.