Country Roads, Stay at Home

Published online: Jun 17, 2010 News Michael Hupp -
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Water, Water Everywhere

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began flood-control programs in 1938, creating 10 manmade recreational lakes throughout the state. Tygart Lake, just outside of Grafton was the first flood-control lake.

According to the Corps of Engineers, the state's lakes had 7.5 million visitors in 2009, and they spent $385 million on trip expenses and durable goods and generated more than 2,000 industry-related and spin-off jobs.

"The economic impact of the state's lakes is huge in terms of social benefit," Jack Nichol, park ranger for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Huntington District said.

Nichol said many people believe the lakes were meant initially for flood control, but lawmakers saw the economic and recreational potential the creation of lakes could provide the state.

"Recreation was also the purpose when lawmakers proposed creating the lakes, and the social benefits provided for the state are and continue to be ongoing," Nichol said.

Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, the state's largest manmade lake, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area, providing a boost to the local economy, Nichol said. Many other state lakes have the same benefit, he said.

The state's lakes provide visitors opportunities for boating, camping, fishing, hiking and swimming. Many have roped off beach areas. Those include Beech Fork Lake in Wayne County and Burnsville Lake in Braxton County.

The lakes have a $3-a-day boat-launch fee, and most offer marinas that provide snacks and fuel for boaters. Burnsville and Sutton Lake offer boat rentals -- from modestly priced two-man fishing vessels to houseboat options that allow families to cruise the water in style.

Campers can use an array of options from rustic to full-amenity camping. Many campsites have full electric, water and sewage hookups. Bathhouses with full shower and restroom facilities are also provided.

"We are working to provide and upgrade hookups at all our campsites for campers to enjoy as budget permits," Nichol said.

Prices range an average of $25 to $50 a night, with discounts provided for seniors and servicemen.

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