Sam Dillon enjoys a kayak trip down the Clinch River. Roger Davis photo.
GATE CITY — The creation of the Clinch River State Park in Southwest Virginia took another step toward becoming reality this week after the Virginia House of Delegates included funding for the initiative in its upcoming budget.
According to Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, the House has agreed to include an initial $2.5 million in the 2014-15 budget to help establish what would be Virginia's 38th state park. Kilgore said an additional $2.5 million for park development would also be requested during the 2015-16 fiscal year.
"It's exciting and I believe it's really going to help open up a lot of opportunities for tourism and for entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of that," Kilgore said. "It's a beautiful area and it's perfect for a state park."
Although the funding could still be removed before the final budget is signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Kilgore said he felt there was enough support in the state Senate for the measure to make it through.
"I think we're pretty solid on it in the House, and Sen. (Bill) Carrico and Sen. (Phil) Puckett are supportive of it, so it's a bipartisan effort," Kilgore said. "The funding will start in this biennium, so hopefully we'll get things moving pretty fast. ... (Delegate Ben Chafin) and I have both been working to include the funding because we know it's important with all the tourism opportunities going on right now in Southwest Virginia."
The park would include sections of the Clinch River primarily located in Scott and Russell counties. Some park property would also be located in Wise and Tazewell counties.
For an expanded version of this article, please see Friday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.