MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources has passed House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 43 to study the possibility of establishing a state park in the Cheat Lake area. The area is currently the home of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey and is near Lake Lynn Power Station.

HCR 43 was introduced by Debbie Warner, R, Monongalia, 82; Geno Chiarelli, R, Monongalia, 78; Delegate Joe Statler, R, Monongalia, 77; Anitra Hamilton, D, Monongalia, 81; George Street, R, Preston, 83; and Rolland Jennings, R, Preston, 84.

Statler pointed out to the committee members that the area was once a very popular tourist area that could be revived. The Mont Chateau Hotel was a tourist attraction from 1894 until 1956 that was a very popular regional destination before the interstate highway.

“It is actively still making hydroelectric power; there is the Mont Chateau Lodge you talked about, and it was once a grand lodge,” Statler said.

Delegate George Street, R, Preston, 83, said his district is on the border, and he believes a state park in that area could bring a windfall to his district. He added that it would likely be added to the list of stops for the many who visit Coopers Rock State Forest each year.

“The long-term effect of this would probably create millions of dollars worth of economic activity in the area; Cheat Lake is already a popular place,” Street said.

Despite the pandemic shutdown, tourism in West Virginia has grown by 30 percent since 2016, or an increased economic impact of more than $1 billion. A release from the office of the governor reports that the total economic impact of tourism in 2022 was $7 billion.

“If we’re going to develop tourism as the third leg of our milking stool, we’ve got to look at every possibility,” Delegate Roy Cooper, R, Summers, 40, said. “Having said that, this study will reveal what the potential is and what the economic impact might be.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been receiving public comment for the recertification of the Lake Lynn Power Station Dam. In the application, FERC has proposed removing approximately 307 acres from federal protection. Because of the property value, area residents are concerned the land could be sold to a developer with little or no interest in the community.

“There has been discussion on the property around the lake and what will become of it,” Statler said. “There is some thought out there that they will put it up for sale.”

Currently, Mont Chateau is home to a Mini-Museum of Geology and Natural History with exhibits of rock, mineral, and fossil specimens from all ages of West Virginia’s geologic history. The museum also contains a variety of geologic specimens, historic books, maps, manuscripts, and artifacts.

“I think this is an exciting possibility, and the wisdom of it is that it’s a study to find out if there is a future benefit for this for tourism and quality of life in that area, so I speak in strong support,” Delegate Ric Griffith, D, Wayne, 27, said.