Friends of New River Gorge National River (Friends) has initiated a fundraising campaign to restore the overlook at Turkey Spur. Located in the Grandview area of New River Gorge National River (NR), this overlook has been a local favorite for years, offering stunning views 1,000 feet above the New River. The National Park Service (NPS) made significant improvements to the overlook’s boardwalk and steps in 2015, only to have them burned a few months later. The Turkey Spur Fire started as arson and quickly spread, burning 35 acres of hardwood forest. The fire wiped out much of the newly improved overlook, leaving charred remnants of the agency’s hard work.
NPS employees spent four months on the project, hiking lumber and tools into the site every day by hand. Jeff West, Acting Superintendent for New River Gorge NR stated, “Our maintenance division took great pride in the hard work and level of craftsmanship involved in completing this project. Losing that work to arson was not only hard on park visitors that love this special place, but also painful to the staff that did the work. Furthermore, the funding we would need for an immediate rebuild is simply not there.”
It would take a minimum of three years for the NPS to request federal funding for a rebuild of the iconic boardwalk. Park budgets are doled out annually at fixed rates to cover routine operational expenses only. Any projects that exceed typical operations are handled differently, through fund sources that operate on a three-year cycle. The total estimate to rebuild the overlook comes in at about $50,000. Friends are hopeful that enough money can be raised locally to leverage matching funds from various grant sources.
Friends of New River Gorge NR is kicking off the fundraising campaign on Tuesday, Nov. 15 with a dinner and silent auction at Outback Steak House in Beckley. The buffet-style dinner will offer prime rib and chicken sliders, mashed potatoes, salad, cheese and fruit trays, and cheesecake. Buffet and silent auction will open at 5 p.m.; with auction winners announced at 8 p.m. Entry tickets are $25 a person and may be purchased at the door or online. To purchase tickets online, visit www.friendsofnrgnr.org, click donate, write in $25 and, type “Turkey Spur” in the memo.
Friends of New River Gorge National River, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, charitable organization that provides valuable support to all three national parks of southern West Virginia. To learn more about Friends, or to become a member, visit www.friendsofnrgnr.org. Additional information on New River Gorge NR can be found by visiting www.nps.gov/neri.