Nearly 200 West Virginia businesses — and a consortium of groups ranging from the WV Council of Churches, veterans, sportsmen, and local governments — hope President Barack Obama will designate the area as the Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. The designation would ensure that the area will always be open to hunting, fishing, hiking, and sightseeing.
“Birthplace of Rivers truly represents what is so special about West Virginia’s mountains and streams,” said Gil Willis, owner of Elk River Inn and Touring Center in Slatyfork, which is giving away the maps. “Whether you’re an avid outdoors person, love waterfalls, or just enjoy seeing wild orchids in bloom, this place has it — and we want to keep it just the way it is.”
“West Virginia’s tourism economy really needs this monument designation,” said Willis. Monuments can be created by Congress or by the President, he added.
Monument proponents had been waiting two years for legislation promised by Senator Joe Manchin III. “Our state’s economy can’t wait any longer; we need this shot economic boost, so businesses across the state are asking the President to create the monument,” said Bruce Donaldson, owner of Four Seasons Outfitters in Richwood.
Barack Obama, like 15 other Republican and Democratic presidents, has used the Antiquities Act to create national monuments. Obama has so far created 22, but of those, only three are in the eastern United States, and they are buildings or structures. Recently, he designated three national monuments in California totaling 1.8 million acres.
Now business owners want West Virginia’s monument to be next, the first such landscape-scale designation in the East.
The area is also the headwaters of six famed West Virginia rivers, including the Gauley. “Our whitewater rafting industry depends on keeping these rivers pristine,” added Bobby Bower, President of the West Virginia Professional River Outfitters.
Bluegrass Kitchen, corner of Washington and Elizabeth streets; 304-346-2871
Mi Cocina de Amor, 711 Bigley Ave.; 304-205-5461.
Taylor Books, 226 Capitol Street; 304-342-1461.
Cathedral Café, 134 S Court Street; 304-574-0202
Water Stone Outdoors, Wiseman & Court St;304-574-2425
Serenity Now Outfitters, 207 W. Washington St.;304-647-9779
Wild Bean, 119 E. Washington St.; 304-645-3738.
Eastern Panhandle Bicycle Company, 805 East Moler Ave., 304-263-3760.
Black Bear Burrito, 132 Pleasant St. Morgantown; 304-296-8696
Pathfinder Outfitters, 235 High Street, Morgantown; 304-296-0076
Elk River Touring Center, 37787 Seneca Trail; 304-572-3771.
Four Seasons Outfitters, 190 Middletown Road; 304-846-2862.
Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle, 115 W. German Street, 304-876-3000.