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Park Service assesses impact of West Virginia attractions

CHARLESTON (AP) — Four National Park Service attractions in West Virginia drew a total of 1.5 million visitors last year.

A Park Service report looked at attendance in 2013 at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area. Visitors to those sites spent more than $63 million, and that directly supported 839 jobs, the report found.

The Park Service said the West Virginia numbers are part of a national look at the effect of U.S. parks. It found that 30 percent of visitor spending was for lodging, followed by 27 percent for food and beverages, 12 percent for gas and oil, and 10 percent apiece for admissions and fees, and souvenirs and other expenses.

The report also found that 50,000 jobs related to restaurants and bars and 38,000 jobs in the lodging industry were supported by visitor spending.

And nationwide, attendance at national parks totaled 273.6 million in 2013, down 3.2 percent from 2012, according to the report.

West Virginia park attendance figures:

—Bluestone National Scenic River, 36,267 visitors, $1.5 million spent, 19 jobs supported.

—Gauley River National Recreation Area, 135,310 visitors, $5.5 million spent, 72 jobs supported.

—Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 255,714 visitors, $11.9 million spent, 166 jobs supported.

—New River Gorge National River, 1.07 million visitors, $44.1 million spent, 582 jobs supported.

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