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Construction to begin on state’s first Elk Visitor Center in Logan County

State-of-the-art facility will enhance elk management and promote wildlife tourism in West Virginia
CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice announced today that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has awarded a $6.7 million contract to the March-Westin Company, Inc. of Morgantown to construct a new Tomblin Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center and Elk Viewing Platform in Logan County.

Construction on the new facility will begin this spring with an anticipated opening in 2025. This state-of-the-art facility is expected to draw in thousands of new visitors who will witness the majesty of the elk herd while contributing significantly to the local economy and supporting ongoing elk management efforts.

“I’m excited to announce that this project is getting started because it will allow even more people to experience the awe-inspiring sight of our elk herd,” Gov. Justice said. “West Virginians have embraced these majestic creatures, and this new facility will ensure their continued success while boosting tourism and economic development in Logan County.”
Funding for the project comes from $2.5 million in Abandoned Mine Lands grants awarded by Gov. Justice, along with $2.1 million from the West Virginia Department of Economic Development and an additional $2.1 million from hunting and fishing license funds.

The elk viewing tower will provide an elevated platform for enhanced viewing areas and a level viewing area that will be accessible for those with limited mobility. The adjacent visitor center will complement the elk viewing tower with more than 2,000-square feet of displays, conference facilities, offices and other amenities for visitors, volunteers, researchers and staff. There will also be more than 500-square feet dedicated to the history of the elk program and the reclaimed mine areas where they have been introduced.

Aside from the visitor center, the new facility will feature 3,300-square feet of space designed to meet the unique needs of managing and supporting West Virginia’s growing elk herd, including a lab with an enlarged exterior door and overhead crane system for handling elk, five large equipment bay doors, research facilities, labs, and storage for supplies and equipment.
“This facility will not only provide unparalleled opportunities for the public to connect with nature and witness our majestic elk herd but also plays a crucial role in our ongoing efforts to restore and manage elk populations in West Virginia,” WVDNR Director Brett McMillion said. “Thanks to the generous support from Gov. Justice, our state and the contributions of our hunting and fishing communities, we are able to bring this project to life. We believe this initiative will serve as a beacon for wildlife enthusiasts, researchers and tourists alike, offering a unique window into the beauty of West Virginia.”

Gov. Jim Justice and the WVDNR announced in January that 17 new elk had been transferred to the Tomblin WMA, bringing the state’s growing elk population up to 127. A second transport of 23 elk is scheduled to take place later this month.

All 40 elk scheduled to be released this year will be transported from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky. Partner agencies involved in the capture and release include the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
About the Elk Restoration Project
The WVDNR launched its Elk Restoration Project in 2016 with the release of 24 elk acquired from the Land Between the Lakes. Since 2018, the WVDNR has introduced 57 elk (15 from Kentucky and 42 from Arizona) to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County. 

To raise awareness about its elk restoration project, the WVDNR has offered guided elk tours in Logan County where participants can learn more about the history of elk in West Virginia and get a chance to see elk in a natural setting. Tours are offered in September and October each year and often sell out. 

To learn more about the WVDNR’s elk restoration program, visit WVdnr.gov/elk. To download a copy of the WVDNR’s Elk Management Plan, visit WVdnr.gov/publications-and-guides.