Last month, a bill passed by both houses of Congress designated America's 63rd national park. The move upgraded West Virginia's New River Gorge from a national river to a federally protected tourist destination.
The existing New River Gorge area spans more than 70,000 acres, but according to Congress' designation act, it'll be divided into two sections: the park and the preserve. The park, which includes some of the most scenic slivers of waterfront, will only be 7,021 acres. The remaining 65,165 acres will make up the preserve, providing ample space for people to continue hunting and fishing legally.
You may be surprised to learn that the creation of the new park was tied to the COVID-19 relief bill, but there's actually a very good reason: National parks drive tourism dollars. Of course, the purpose of national parks is to appreciate and preserve our nation's natural gems, but a side effect of creating a federally protected park is that it becomes a place of nationwide significance—one that people will travel from all over to see, supporting local communities in the process.
Check out the full article from Thrillist here.