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The Coal National Heritage Area

This heritage area, encompassing an 11-county region in southern West Virginia, was designated by Congressional House bill #H12239 in October 1996. The counties included are Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming. It was deemed that it was in the national interest to preserve, protect and interpret physical remnants of lands and structures with unique and significant historic and cultural value associated with the coal mining heritage of the state of West Virginia and the nation for the educational and inspirational benefit of present and future generations. The bill charges that the divisions of Tourism and Culture and History will jointly administer the development of the area and prepare a management plan within three years of the designation date. For a period of 10 years, up to $1 million is to be made available annually in a 50% grant program for projects in the heritage area.

Presently the West Virginia Division of Tourism is the lead agency in the development of this heritage area. The Governor's Office has provided the Division with additional funding to match $250,000 in federal "start up" funds made available for the heritage area by congress in October 1977. the division is preparing to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Park Service to begin the actual development of the area. A study prepared by the National Park Service in 1993, in cooperation with the Division of Culture and History, entitled "A Coal Mining Heritage Study: Southern West Virginia" is to be used to determine priority sites for development and preservation.