Citizens Gather at Cacapon State Park Upper Lake to Challenge Proposed 350 RV Campground

More than seventy people gathered Monday at the Cacapon State Park upper lake to oppose the proposed 350 spot RV campground put forth by Blue Water Development. 

Citizens gather at Cacapon State Park
upper lake to oppose 350 spot EV campground

And they vowed to come back with more people next Monday April 3 at 6 pm at the upper lake. 

In addition to the 350 spot RV campground, Blue Water is proposing for the west side of the upper lake a beach, fishing piers, water slides, an Aquabana, a kayak dock, a mountain bike training area, a lawn area with cabanas, and miniature golf around a parking location for local food truck vendors.

A range of concerns were raised by the citizens, from the threats the proposed campground poses to the natural beauty of the upper lake and to fishing and hunting grounds.

The group plans to meet every Monday between now and April 18, when the state has planned a public hearing on the proposal at the Cacapon Lodge at 5 pm.

Jim Michael, president of the Cacapon State Park Foundation said the foundation “is very concerned” about the Blue Water proposal.

Blue Water proposal for
Cacapon State Park

“We feel that it needs to be totally adjusted and changed from the plans they’ve got because of the damage it will do to the park,” Michael said.

Michael says that he talks frequently with Brad Reed, the Chief of the West Virginia State Parks. 

“But his hands are kind of tied,” Michael said. 

Michael said the decision is being made “from up above” in the Commerce Department.

“Is there some way of getting more attention from the Department of Commerce people?” Michael asked.

Douglas Waugh has been in Morgan County his whole life.

He says he fishes the Cacapon park lakes five or six days a week – “from sunrise for about two or three hours.”

“As a young boy, I came to the park all the time,” Waugh said.

Pointing up to the mountain behind the lake, Waugh said – “there are a lot of hunting camps there on the back side.”

Pointing to the west side of the lake where Blue Water plans to put its miniature golf course, beach and Aquabana, Waugh said – “any fisherman who has been over there knows that it’s a wetland over there.”

“Now we don’t even get enough funds from the state to put enough fish in here to amount to anything,” Waugh said. “Do you think when they build all of this they are going to be worried about the fishermen? They are not now, so they are not going to be when they build all this.”

Waugh said he and all of his fishing buddies are opposed to the Blue Water proposal. 

“I hope they never get to do a thing and I thank all of you people,” Waugh said.

Sadie Dingfelder said that “if you believe what you read on Facebook, you’d believe it’s a done deal.” 

“But it’s only a done deal if we believe it’s a done deal,” Dingfelder said. “Tell your friends it’s not a done deal.” 

She encouraged people to bring their friends for the next couple of Mondays.

Dingfelder also encouraged people to learn about the endangered wood turtle which she has seen in the park near the Nature Center. (She took this picture of the wood turtle near the Nature Center on June 22, 2022.) 

Wood Turtle Near Nature Center
Cacapon State Park, June 22, 2022

“They are very beautiful turtles and they are also the smartest turtles,” she said. “They can learn to recognize people by their faces.”

It was reported at the meeting that a couple of years ago, the leadership at Cacapon was told matter of factly that because of the park’s proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the state wanted Cacapon to become “a major profit center.”

But Tom Ambrose, the former superintendent at the park, wrote in a letter to the Morgan Messenger last month that the parks were never intended to be profit centers.

“We must be vigilant in taking care of our parks,” Ambrose wrote. “We should never take them for granted. Parks were never intended to be major profit centers. They were set aside to preserve and protect our historical and environmental legacy. We need to be good stewards of the very generous gift that has been bestowed upon us. We should never compromise the trust that has been given to us to pass on to future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.”

Local resident and lawyer Bruce Goldstein, who attended the meeting at the upper lake, today called on West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to withdraw the request for proposals (RFP).

“The RFP was drafted without adequate, if any, public input,” Goldstein wrote in a letter to the Governor. “There is no valid reason for the failure to give the public the opportunity to submit suggestions for an RFP that could have such huge impacts on this park. For this reason alone, the RFP should be withdrawn and there should be a meaningful process for the public’s voice to be heard on the contents of the RFP.” 

“The RFP’s contents are fundamentally inappropriate in several ways,” Goldstein wrote. “Most importantly, the RFP is written in such a way as to rule out the possibility of sensible, effective options for the development of additional camping and recreational facilities at the park. Overall, the RFP’s approach virtually guaranteed that the only successful proposal would be one that included a very large development of recreational vehicle sites and recreational facilities, so large that the development would be inconsistent with the character as well as the scale of this modest-sized park. The RFP in effect rules out smaller, less intrusive development that would be consistent with the park’s size and character and would not eliminate many of the attributes that give so much enjoyment to visitors.”

Two Facebook pages have been put up to discuss developments at the park — Save Cacapon Resort State Park and Friends of Cacapon Resort State Park.

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