CANAAN VALLEY, W.Va. — On Thursday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Kate MacGregor and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith joined Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for a behind-the-scenes tour of the new LEED-certified visitor center and headquarters facility at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Davis, West Virginia.
“This new visitor center is a prime example of the Trump Administration’s investment in our public lands and aging infrastructure. By opening up the new visitor center and increasing new fishing opportunities, we hope our visitors have the best of experiences here in beautiful Canaan Valley,” said Deputy Secretary MacGregor. “We look forward to working with Senators Capito and Manchin on continuing future infrastructure investments in the Mountaineer state with funds from the Great American Outdoors Act.”
In Fiscal Year 2019, the Service received $7 million in appropriations to construct a new facility at the refuge to replace the existing inadequate and dilapidated facility and co-locate staff from nearby Service offices.
“Today’s visit was such a treat because I was able to see the progress being made on the Canaan Valley federal facilities,” said Capito. “I have worked to secure the federal funding needed for a new Visitors Center at Canaan Valley for years, and the final product will be state-of-the-art buildings that educate and encourage conservation in wild and wonderful West Virginia. From attracting new visitors to making it easier for West Virginians and anyone else visiting our state to enjoy and appreciate this area’s natural beauty, this new center is going to be such an asset to the refuge and to our state. Deputy Secretary MacGregor and Director Skipwith were extremely impressed and excited, and their confidence underscores the important work being done here.”
The new building, which is not yet open to the public, includes a visitor area with interpretive exhibits and multi-purpose room, as well as administrative offices for refuge employees. Staff from the Service’s West Virginia Field Office and West Virginia Office of Law Enforcement will also be stationed there.
The facility incorporates state-of-the-art, energy-efficient features and meets sustainability standards, earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver certification. The Service also redesigned and rebuilt Freeland Trail boardwalk with more sustainable components, adding a raised platform and custom benches.
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, at nearly 17,000 acres, contains the largest wetland complex in West Virginia, encompassing more than 8,400 acres. Refuge habitats, which include high-elevation shrublands and woodlands, support migratory birds and endangered species, including Cheat Mountain salamander and Indiana bat, along with other common West Virginia wildlife.
“This investment at Canaan Valley exemplifies the Trump Administration’s and the Secretary’s commitment to connecting people with nature through hunting, fishing and outdoor experiences,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “Investment in infrastructure is also a key part of ensuring a positive visitor experience, and I thank Senators Capito and Manchin for their support of the Great American Outdoors Act. FWS plans to open the refuge to recreational freshwater fishing, open an additional 342 acres to hunting, and expand hunting opportunities in 754 acres according to state regulations.”
“This has been a great month for conservation and outdoor recreation, first with the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act earlier this month, and now today, as we celebrate the progress that has been made on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center,” said Manchin. “Our public lands are what makes West Virginia Wild and Wonderful, and I am so proud of everyone who helped take this dream this far. I look forward to seeing the Visitor Center completed soon and filled with tourists from all over who come to see the beauty and wildlife in the wonderful Mountain State.”
The refuge has more than 30 miles of trails that offer hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing, and photography. In a typical year, it hosts about 54,000 visitors, but this year, due to the pandemic, trail use increased 40 percent between March and August, as people sought safe venues for recreation.
Hunting opportunities – for small game, upland and migratory birds/waterfowl and big game – abound on the refuge.
The Service plans a grand opening of the facility for the community in 2021.
For more information visit https://www.fws.gov/northeast/west-virginia-facility/
Information provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.