From our friends at WV Rivers
WV Legislature: Bills Advancing to Expand Long-Term Private Leases in State Parks and Forest
Two bills are moving through the legislature that have similar provisions: to expand and extend the lease terms for private companies to develop and operate facilities and recreational activities for all of our state parks and forests. The bills give the Director of the WV Division of Natural Resources the sole authority to decide what kind of recreational activities and facilities can be developed by private companies on our state public lands, and can set those lease terms for a 50 year period.
The House version of the bill, HB 4408, passed the Natural Resources Committee on February 16 and the Government Organization Committee earlier this week. It is now on the House Floor for amendments and vote in the next 3 days. The Senate bill, SB 485, passed the Natural Resources Committee on February 21 and is in the Finance Committee.
These bills open the door for profit-driven private investors to build and operate new facilities and recreational activities in all our state parks and forests for up to 50 years. There are no guardrails limiting the types of new facilities and activities allowed. Casinos, racetracks, amusement parks, ATV trails or similar developments could be built on our state’s public lands. There are no provisions for assessing the economic and environmental impacts of these new 50-year projects, or how they may interfere with access to and the enjoyment of existing outdoor recreation activities.
Let your legislators know you love what our state parks currently offer and oppose these bills!