GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 99-3
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM


BURNS, Robert, Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, 6125 Percival Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506 and CARDOZO MOREIRA, Jasmine, Department of Tourism, Ponta Grossa State University, Praça Santos Andrade no 1, Ponta Grossa, 4748, Brazil; Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, 6125 Percival Hall, Morgantown, WV 26506

This presentation will focus on the steps being taken to sustain the 7-year effort to create the Appalachian Geopark (AGP). The Appalachian Geopark project, initiated in 2015, will encompass three West Virginia (US) counties (Fayette, Raleigh and Greenbrier), covering nearly 6000 km2, with a total population of 160,000 (Burns et al. 2016). (Figure 1). Three large rural towns (Fayetteville, Beckley, and Lewisburg), as well as numerous smaller communities, are included within the boundaries of the AGP. The project is named for the Appalachian mountains in which it is situated, as well as the Appalachian culture that it highlights. West Virginia, the “Mountain State” is totally encompassed within Appalachia, the only state that is situated completely within Appalachia. (Appalachian Regional Commission, 2021). The US Geoheritage and Geoparks Advisory Group visited the aspiring Geopark and provided a detailed list of action items needed to move forward a potential application that would be routed to the Global Geoparks Network, through the US advisory group. As a result of this visit, the AGP team (the co-authors) have focused on several strategies. We will discuss the selection of the geosites, as most are related to geoheritage of the area. The overall strategy has been do garner support from the state of West Virginia leadership—including a meeting with the WV Governor and a series of meetings with the WV Tourism Director. The team has attended numerous GCN and other Geoheritage meetings over the past seven years. Partnerships have been developed with the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, WV State Parks, WV State Geologist, the county and local commissions and mayors within the various communities and West Virginia University, the Land Grant institution within the state of West Virginia. The WV AGP team is hopeful that the political situation between UNESCO and the United States will be resolved in a positive manner. Our discussion will focus on these and other key efforts as suggested by the US Geoheritage and Geoparks Advisory Group.