Gov. Justice celebrates completion of $5.7 million in upgrades at North Bend State Park

CAIRO, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced the completion of $5.7 million in upgrades at North Bend State Park during a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the reopening of the park’s lodge ahead of the summer travel season.

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“I congratulate everyone who has played a part in doing all of the incredible work that’s been done at this beautiful park,” Gov. Justice said. “All of the renovations that we’re doing at our parks, just like we have at North Bend, are a huge boost for everything that we do.”

Gov. Justice was joined by West Virginia Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Brett McMillion, West Virginia State Parks leaders, and other local officials, who showcased $4.5 million in renovations to North Bend’s 29-room lodge.

Lodge upgrades include renovations to the lodge’s guest rooms, lobby, front desk, gift shop, and restaurant, as well as improvements to the lodge exterior, walkways, guest room corridors, and landscaping.

In addition to the lodge renovations, the North Bend State Park also underwent $500,000 in cabin upgrades and $700,000 in construction for a pair of picnic shelters.

“No one has done more for West Virginia’s state parks, for outdoor recreation, and for our tourism industry than Governor Justice has in these past five years,” said Tourism Secretary Ruby. “The completion of this renovation project is another way he has kept his promises to make our state parks the centerpiece of tourism in our state, and we are excited to see how it helps us attract even more visitors this year.”

“Projects like these bring our state a multiplier effect like you can’t imagine,” Gov. Justice said. “There’s more interest in West Virginia than ever. People are coming into our state and dollars are being spent. It’s just more and more goodness everywhere you look.”

North Bend is just the latest state park to reopen after major renovations.

This year alone, Gov. Justice has hosted similar ribbon-cutting ceremonies at Hawks NestBlackwater Falls, and Canaan Valley state parks to celebrate nearly $18 million in improvements.

These upgrades represent just a small portion of the $151 million-worth of improvement projects that have been completed or started at every state park and forest in West Virginia since Gov. Justice took office.

On average, about 7 million people visit West Virginia’s state parks and forests each year, but park visitation surpassed 9 million in 2021, the highest number on record in state history.

During the event, WVDNR Director McMillion announced that revenue collections within the State Parks system for March 2022 were $4 million above the same month last year.

“Everywhere you look in our State Parks, you’re seeing improvements, and so I am very excited to share another one of these renovations that we were able to complete under Governor Justice’s leadership,” McMillion said. “For the lodge project, we went down to the bare bones in many pieces and it came back magnificently. I think that, out of all of our lodge renovations across the state, this project gave us the most bang for our buck. With all of the upgrades, I truly believe this park will be a showpiece for Ritchie County.”

“Our state is on the rocket ship ride that I promised, and what’s really taking us to the top is that people on the outside world are starting to find out just how good we really are,” Gov. Justice said. “The beauty has always been here. But, through our efforts with tourism and how we’re marketing ourselves more than ever, we’re changing people’s perspective about everything else in our state.”

“We’re seeing great results,” Secretary Ruby said. “Governor, you said years ago at your Inauguration about how we were going to invest in our tourism and how we were just getting started. Everything that the Governor promised – putting money into these parks, marketing the state to the outside world – it’s working.”

During the event, Secretary Ruby also announced that park reservations for this upcoming summer are now 31% ahead of reservation numbers from the summer before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

“Not only are projects like the ones we’re unveiling at North Bend today providing a great place for locals to get outside, but it’s also showcasing West Virginia to the nation and the world,” she added. “We continue to receive all kinds of national and international recognition from travel publications. Nearly every major tourism magazine has said West Virginia is one of the top places to visit for 2022.”

Ruby went on to announce that, just as of this morning, CBS has named West Virginia as one of its top destinations for family vacations in 2022.

“We need to just go with this momentum,” Gov. Justice said. “If we don’t get in our own way, the wave will just get bigger and bigger. It’s a real opportunity for all of us.

“I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say you can’t imagine how proud I am to be just a little part of seeing West Virginians be proud of themselves,” Gov. Justice continued. “For far too long, we walked around with our heads down. But I’ve always known that this state and our people are the greatest of the greatest, and that, if we truly turned our state loose, we could accomplish unbelievable things.

“All this state ever needed was someone who knew just how good we really are. And I’m really proud to have been that guy.”

Named for the horseshoe curve of the North Fork of the Hughes River, North Bend State Park – located near Cairo and Harrisville – is known for hiking trails, outdoor adventures, and the 72-mile North Bend Rail Trail. Development of North Bend State Park began in 1951, when the state Legislature allotted funds to purchase land in Ritchie County. By 1954, the state had purchased 1,405 acres for the park.

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