Wood County Commission seeks state grant to develop trails in Mountwood Park | News, Sports, Jobs

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission is seeking a state grant to help with trail development in Mountwood Park.

The commission signed a letter to Governor Jim Justice in support of an application by Mountwood Park for a 2022 Abandoned Mining Lands Economic Revitalization Grant for the designated Mountwood Park Trail Center and Campground Development project.

“We are constantly concerned with supporting and promoting our county’s many tourist attractions and features,” said the letter. “Mountwood Park has by far our most diverse offering for outdoor activities. From local residents using the park to the many visitors to our county and state, we have seen an increase in park usage. We are excited to see the mountain bike trail system upgrade currently underway.

The commission has committed $200,000 to renovate the former equestrian campground into a trailside campground for mountain bikers. The camping area would serve as a starting point for new 5-7 mile rails being built as part of the project.

The commission estimates that the project, once awarded, would be completed in six to eight months, the letter states.

Commission Chairman Blair Couch, who sits on Mountwood’s board of directors, said there was an old coal mine under the park, the westernmost one in West Virginia.

Park officials believe the mine predates 1877. Coal from the mine was likely sold to Volcano and Petroleum, he said.

Couch said the park also wants to use the grant money to put up metal fencing at the entrance to the mine so animals, like bats, can still get in and out. They want to put in place a way for people to look inside and have signs showing what happened there in the past.

The campground is above where the mine is.

“We have to secure all of this”, Couch said of mine.

Park officials aren’t saying exactly where the entrance is because they want to try to keep people out of it until they can secure it.

“It’s not sure” said the couch.

The park will seek $3.8 million in grants.

Couch said the park was hit hard by storms earlier this week.

“There are hundreds of trees down there, big trees,” he said. “The number of trees they had to cut from the road was phenomenal.”

Near White Oak Lodge, a shear cut through a hill of trees that toppled many, Couch said.

Stewards could travel there early next week to examine the damage.

Couch said planned dredging of the lake will begin July 5.

The commission also shared stories from former commissioner Holmes R. “Mannish” Shaver, who passed away earlier this week.

No committee meetings will be held on Monday, June 20, West Virginia Day. However, there will be a dedication for the David Couch Memorial Picnic Shelter at 10 a.m. Monday at Fort Boreman Park. Carlin’s Battery D, a Wood County Civil War reenactment group, will fire their cannon on West Virginia Day

Couch, who owned and operated the local Hertz rental car business in Parkersburg for many years and was a Wood County commissioner, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in December 1999 and is died in December 2001. He is the father of Commissioner Blair Couch.

The picnic shelter, which was built over two years ago, was paid for through grants and other funds raised. A formal dedication has been planned for almost two years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has kept it delayed.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at [email protected]

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