LENORE – The Division of Natural Resources (DNR) made a recent announcement that funding for recreational activities would be cut at several state parks including Laurel Lake as a result of state budget cuts.
Gail Hall, a spokesperson for the Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Foundation responded to the announcement stating, “I find the content in the news release to be totally devastating! An action like this is something that our area definitely does not need. While we may be a rural area, our people do not need to be made recreationally and culturally impoverished.”
Hall continued discussing the impact this could have on healthy indicatives being taken throughout Mingo County. “Our area has been focusing on having a healthy population and this is one area that is a vital component of that focus. There has to be something that can be done. Our Foundation has begun the process for creating a walking track at the tunnel end of the Lake’s property,” Hall said.
Lola Lackey, Secretary and Treasurer for WMA Foundation also commented on what the budget cuts will mean for the future of Laurel Lake. “My main concern is for the community,” Lackey said.
Lackey continued, explaining that although the Lake will continue to be stocked with trout and catfish, the park and recreational aspect of the park will no longer receive funding. “We lose a lot when we lose the parks and recreational side. I feel like the work the WMA Foundation has done has went down the drain. The area will not be maintained from my understanding,” Lackey said.
Lackey explained that the funding will cause the park to lose its status as a Wildlife Management Area. The new status will be listed as a Wildlife Resource Section.
In 2012, the WMA foundation received grant funding and partnered with several Mingo County organizations, including the Mingo County Commission, Contiga, Consol Energy, and Delegate Justin Marcum.
“With the grants we installed two playground sets and spring riding toys,” Lackey said. She explained that this also means that the Laurel Lake Pool that was recently reopened may have to be closed. “We have a lot of people that love the pool and it is a shame that it is going to be closed,” Lackey explained.
Delegate Marcum commented on the issue stating, “Southern W.Va. is already suffering. We have a governor that failed to notify any legislators that this was coming. We fought for funding to make it better to just have it taken away.”
Marcum continued saying, “My efforts will continue. I am working on scheduling meetings with the DNR and governor’s office to discuss this issue. My goal is to keep Laurel Lake operating. I encourage everyone to utilize the park. If we want to keep it, we have to use it.”
According to the WMA website, “Laurel Lake is a 29 acre impoundment on Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area. It was built in 1960 with a maximum depth of 30 feet and an average depth of ten feet. A gravel boat ramp, pit toilets, swimming pool, bathhouse facilities, drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and a 25- unit campground are available. A trail surrounding the lake provides bank fishing access.”
More information about Laurel Lake can be found by visiting http://www.laurellakewma.com/.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)