Local groups try to change name of New River Gorge National River

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A number of local groups and businesses are in the process of trying to change the name of a national river in Fayette County.

The New River Gorge National River has attracted people from across the United States for decades. Now, groups in Fayette County are saying it is time for some rebranding. They want to change the name to New River National Park; a change local groups say will help the area.

Marketing Director for Adventures on the Gorge, Dave Arnold, said this is something that he believes is important to tourism. 

“A national park has a strong brand that attracts more people, and that is the soul reason we are trying to do this. For 40 years, we’ve seen and worked with the National Park Service and the National River, it is time that the National River grows up and becomes a true park, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Arnold said.

According to Arnold, studies have shown similar changes result in a 20 percent growth rate in visitors. He also added this will not change what can be done within the park.

“The things that have existed for 40 years, how the park is run, it is our belief that we can do that, and only change the name and make it the most significant property,” Arnold said.

Arnold and other local businesses have been pushing for this since 2004. They are hoping the move will make it through both houses of the federal government by the end of this year.

Superintendent of the New River Gorge National River, Lizzie Watts, said she has seen a huge effort from locals to make the change. While the staff at the park are not making any official comment on the name change, Watts said this is about the love for the area.

“There are a lot of people that love this place, they want to see is protected forever and they thing it’s a great option to try to do that,” Watts said.

Arnold and other supporter said it is crucial to bringing attention to the river’s beauty. 

“I don’t think there is any question when you stand on the edge of New River Gorge early in the morning and the fog is floating through, that don’t understand this is a very special place, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish, we’re trying to put it in the top tier of special places in America,” Arnold said.

Those in favor of this change hope they can get this done by early 2019.

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