(By Delegates Buchanan, Claypole, Fleischauer, McGraw, Prunty, Fragale, Underwood, Rowe, Dempsey, Caputo, Butcher, Compton, Damron, Davis, Flanigan, Hubbard, Hunt, Kuhn, Leach, Linch, Louisos, Sparks, Spencer, Thomas and Tucker)

"Requesting the Division of Natural Resources to work with interested and affected parties to formulate a comprehensive plan for acquiring the Blackwater Canyon for the citizens of West Virginia and visitors."
WHEREAS, Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Tucker County bringing 2 million visitors and $40 million in economic resources, including $270,000 in hotel and motel taxes; tripling over the past ten years; and
Whereas, Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the jewels of the West Virginia state park system, with many scenic views of the falls and canyon, bringing 750,000 people a year to the park who spend $2.5 million there annually; and
Whereas, Scenes and views of the Blackwater Canyon constitute a veritable icon of the best of Wild, Wonderful West Virginia; and
Whereas, The Blackwater River in the beautiful Blackwater Canyon drops 136 feet per mile on its wild tumble 8 miles to Hendricks, creating spectacular views of mountainsides and waterfalls; and
Whereas, The Blackwater Canyon has been world famous since the 1850s when it was featured in the writings and drawings of West Virginia's own Davis Hunter Strother (Porte Crayon) in national publications regarding the features on the area and other writers and artists have used this unique setting in many state and national promotional articles which has spread its fame across the nation and its outstanding resources have made it the site of the annual Blackwater Wildlife Pilgrimage since the 1960s; and
Whereas, The unique features of the Canyon attract hunters, fishermen, hikers, bikers, boaters, picnickers, birders, botanists, writers, artists and sightseers to West Virginia's remote vastness where Porte Crayon said "perhaps in all this broad lands of scene more beautifully grand ever broke on the eye of poet or painter..."; and
Whereas, The West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have spent $1 million to clean up the Blackwater River to create a trout fishery and have begun treatment of the North Fork of the Blackwater River that will create more than 10 miles of new trout stream in the canyon; and
Whereas, The rail trail through the scenic canyon from Thomas to Hendricks will add an estimated $1.2 million to the local economy and forms a critical link in a trail system extending from Washington, D.C., through Tucker County to Lewisburg and beyond; and
Whereas, The rail trail is the linchpin of a trail system linking Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Thomas, Davis, Hendricks, Parsons and Elkins for the premier trail of the east, thus boosting the economies of all five towns and surrounding areas; and
Whereas, The Blackwater Canyon contains an abundance of wildlife including black bear, wild turkey and bobcat, as well as endangered or threatened wildlife species such as the Cheat Mountain salamander and the northern flying squirrel along with rare plants in a steep and protected habitat for them; and
Whereas, State and national conservation organizations and state and federal agencies have expressed great interest in preserving the Blackwater Canyon as a recreational resource for this and future generations; and
Whereas, A large part of the land in the Blackwater Canyon has recently undergone transfer status and land use changes which raises concerns and creates anxiety about the future of the Canyon and presents a unique opportunity for dialogue on the future of the area between the various interested parties; therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Delegates
That the West Virginia House of Delegates requests the Division of Natural Resources to assemble a special task force of affected parties and representatives of interested organizations to formulate a comprehensive plan to be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Delegates by the first day of December, 1998, regarding acquisition of the Blackwater Canyon as a recreation, wildlife and scenic resource for the citizens of West Virginia.