More than 50 people jammed the County Commission room at the Morgan County Courthouse in Berkeley Springs last week to express their displeasure with the state’s proposal to put an RV park behind the Nature Center at Cacapon State Park.
The Commission reacted yesterday with a letter, signed by all three Commissioners — Joel Tuttle, Bill Clark and Sean Forney — to Bradley Reed, chief of the West Virginia Parks.
“We would like to express some concerns that were shared with us by a rather large group of citizens at our public County Commission meeting last week,” the Commissioners wrote. “Many of the concerns are ones you would expect when a project such as this is proposed in one of our beloved state parks: damage to native plant species and natural habitats, runoff, clear-cutting trees, excessive traffic, noise pollution, light pollution, stress to the current water /sewer/electric infrastructure.”
“Some of the concerns are even more specific to the only area used as a ‘suggested’ example in the RFP (request for proposal),” they wrote. “These include the removal of “old growth’ trees, runoff and pollution into the confluence of streams there, particularly Indian Run, the elimination of naturalist-led educational instruction in the habitats surrounding the Nature Center and the potential conflict with one of our cornerstone mountain bike trails, Rock & Roll.”
“This latter issue is of specific concern to the Commission due to our sizable investment in the overall mountain bike trail plan and the important role this area plays in that plan,” the Commissioners said. “As mentioned earlier, the Rock & Roll trail is our cornerstone trail and can be ridden by enthusiasts of all ages and skill sets. It is mostly hand-built and it is estimated that $70,000 worth of volunteer labor was used to complete this trail on a limited budget in the beginning.”
“Many of those volunteers have voiced their displeasure that the Department of Natural Resources would even think about this area for an RV park after considering all the long, hard hours our volunteers dedicated to this effort.”
“A representative from National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the group that hosted the middle and high school age race and brought in over 200 racers and hundreds more visitors, stated that it would be difficult if not impossible to continue to host the NICA race in this location if a campground was placed in the middle of the loop.”
“We hope that you can understand our apprehension at the thought of placing an RV park in this particular location,” the Commissioners wrote. “We have been assured by a member of your team that this spot was merely a suggestion and that any location in the park is a viable option.”
“But if you put yourself in the shoes of the vendors responding to the RFP you’ll see how they would naturally gravitate toward this area after seeing it suggested in print.”
“We urge you, your team and the scoring committee to thoroughly consider the size and scope of any project approved inside the boundary of Cacapon State park. And most importantly, please thoroughly contemplate the location of such a project and the effect that it will have on the habitat and aesthetics of that area and how it may negatively impact the existing infrastructure and the mountain bike trail plan that we both have so greatly invested in.”
The Commissioners sent a copy of their letter to the West Virginia legislative delegation from Morgan County — Senators Charles Trump and Craig Blair and Delegates George Miller and Darren Thorne.
The deadline for proposals is March 3, 2023.
At a pre-bid conference for vendors last month at the Cacapon State Lodge, only one vendor showed up – Blue Water – a developer in the mid-atlantic region with properties that include a number of Jellystone Parks and Kampgrounds of America (KOA).
Blue Water is looking to put in up to 250 RV campsites behind the Nature Center at Cacapon. (See Bike Trail at Cacapon State Park in Berkeley Springs Threatened by Recreational Vehicle Camp Proposal, Morgan County USA, January 21, 2023)