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From our partners at the WV Highlands Conservancy
Governor Justice has just a couple days left to veto House Bill 3370, which passed on the last day of the session. Please call him at 304-558-2000 and email here and ask him to veto this reckless bill. If it is signed into law or allowed to automatically become law without his signature, it will specifically allow use of the State Park Endowment Fund as collateral for loans of up to $5 million to build new facilities on lands that are US Army Corps property (think Stonewall Resort). There is also some vague language that would seem to open the door for the fund to be used in the same way for any tourism related or “hybrid tourism” projects even if not related to parks. In short, this is a bill pushed by private investors to secure public funds.
It is very apparent that this legislation potentially defeats the original purpose of the Endowment Fund, which is funded by gas royalties from under DNR lands. The Fund was established to be a dedicated source of funding to prevent future disrepair and decline of state park infrastructure and equipment. Using the fund as loan collateral for major new facilities defeats its intended purpose.
This bill was promoted by private developers at Stonewall Jackson State Park to expand facilities there that are already underutilized. These Stonewall developers are already heavily in debt to the original revenue bond holders and have no revenue stream that can used to pay down that debt. Now they want to use funds dedicated to state park maintenance as collateral for more loans that they won’t be able to pay off either.
Time is very short but please call and email the Governor’s Office ASAP to recommend that veto of the bill be considered. Call 304.558.2000 and email here.
As always, thank you for supporting us and standing up for our public lands.