Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Pools, Picnic Areas, Camping Dropped at 4 Recreation Areas

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Pools, Picnic Areas, Camping Dropped at 4 Recreation Areas

Article excerpt

Recreation facilities not associated with fishing and hunting at four Southern West Virginia Wildlife Management Areas were officially closed as of Saturday, in an effort to help the Division of Natural Resources' parks and recreation section comply with a 4 percent inter-agency budget cut ordered by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in October. Affected by the closures are Bluestone, Plum Orchard Lake, Berwind Lake and Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Areas. While hunting and fishing, including fish stocking, will continue to be offered at the four WMAs, recreational facilities operated by the state parks system since 1979 will not, due mainly to low usage and high operating costs.

The cutback will close Berwind Lake's swimming pool, bathhouse and snack bar near War in McDowell County and provide no maintenance funding for the WMA's picnic shelters and eight-unit campground.

Laurel Lake WMA near Lenore in Mingo County will also have its swimming pool mothballed and lose maintenance funding for its seven picnic shelters and two playgrounds.

At Bluestone WMA, funding to maintain 330 campsites in seven primitive campgrounds along Bluestone Lake, the New River and Indian Creek in Summers, Mercer and Monroe counties has been cut, along with money to maintain a rustic lodge with full kitchen, bunk-rooms and bathrooms often used for wedding receptions and family reunions. Operations at adjacent Bluestone State Park are not affected.

Plum Orchard Lake near Pax in Fayette County lost funding to maintain its 21-site Beech Bottom Campground, along with 17 lakeside campsites and a rowboat rental facility.

"The recent 4 percent cuts affect all DNR sections but in particular, the parks and recreation section, which is most reliant on state general revenue funds, said DNR Director Bob Fala.

"The swimming pools at Berwind and Laurel lakes and the campgrounds at Bluestone Wildlife Management Area were our biggest concerns, Fala said.

While the pools were producing less than $1 in revenue for every $10 in costs, the Bluestone WMA campgrounds "have a lot of issues with things like potable water, sanitation and safety issues from frequent flooding. …

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