At its meeting this coming Wednesday February 1 at the Morgan County Courthouse in Berkeley Springs, the County Commission will address the proposed RV park at Cacapon State Park.
Listed on the Commission’s agenda is “10:50 – Cacapon State Park RV Park RFP – Discussion/Possible Action.”
Commission President Sean Forney said that if members of the public want to weigh in about the RV Park or any other subject, they would have to show up at the beginning of the meeting at 9:30 a.m. when the first item for business is listed as “Items from the Public / Miscellaneous Discussion.”
There is growing opposition to a proposal to put up to 250 RV camping spots at Cacapon State Park, especially behind the Nature Center, where the RV development would pave over the newly built Rock ‘n Roll Trail. (See Bike Trail at Cacapon State Park in Berkeley Springs Threatened by Recreational Vehicle Camp Proposal, Morgan County USA, January 21, 2023.)
The County Commission has donated tens of thousands of dollars in recent years to help develop the bike trails at Cacapon State Park.
In a letter to West Virginia Parks chief Bradley Reed dated January 26, 2023, Cacapon State Park Foundation President Jim Michael wrote that the proposal to put the RV Park behind the Nature Center “should have been excluded from consideration for preservation purposes alone.”
“It is a wetlands area and home to a network of numerous streams that are part of the protected Chesapeake Bay Watershed and situated in a forest with documented old growth,” Michael wrote. “Disruption of this fragile area by a project of any size would be completely counter to the underlying purpose of our parks.”
“Although educational concerns are not referenced in the request for proposals (RFP), the Nature Center and its surrounding areas are a critical symbiotic unit at Cacapon and should not be separated by a proposed project,” Michael wrote. “The habitats in the diverse environment surrounding the Nature Center are routinely used for naturalist-led, hands-on educational instruction for visitors of all ages including school and civic groups.”
On the issue of bike trails, Michael wrote that Cacapon State Park “has been extremely fortunate to be the recipient of a number of extraordinary grants from West Virginia and federal sources for major mountain bike trail design and build projects totaling in the millions of dollars.”
“It has become an important destination for mountain bikers from near and far and has brought considerable revenue to the park and surrounding jurisdictions. The boggy area behind the Nature Center borders a number of these trails that have been carefully designed to avoid disturbing the streams contained therein.”
“If these trails are destroyed to make way for a new project, it would be an embarrassment that the state would invest so much of its resources in the Cacapon trails, only to turn around and allow them to be destroyed,” Michael wrote. “Not to mention the toll it would take on the hundreds of volunteers and enthusiasts who have wholeheartedly embraced these trails through their physical labor and monetary support.”
Michael said that he recently learned that a representative of National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) has voiced concern about the possibility of a campground infringing on the Rock & Roll trail and “indicated they will be forced to pull the large annual event for middle and high school students from Cacapon if the trail is damaged or changed.”