BREAKS, VA – MARCH 8, 2023 —  Seven projects, including the construction of a wildlife viewing tower, are among the improvements planned this spring at the Breaks Interstate Park due in part to an up to $88,809 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).

The wildlife viewing tower, which is projected to be approximately 10 feet tall, will be able to accommodate up to 20 individuals at a time and will be installed in the park’s elk habitat area near the campground. 

“VCEDA is pleased to once again assist in the further development of the Breaks Interstate Park and its amenities through this grant,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The park continues to be one of the e-Region’s greatest assets.”

According to the application, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources will also contribute approximately $17,000 to the construction of the wildlife viewing tower, in addition to approximately $40,000 they have already contributed to create elk habitat within the park.  The tower will be installed to provide guests with a view of any elk which are attracted to the park by the habitat project.

“Park management is grateful for the ongoing partnership with VCEDA and all of the assistance they provide as we develop new opportunities and update our existing facilities,” said Breaks Interstate Park Superintendent Austin Bradley. “This most recent grant will help finance several park beautification projects, but the addition of a wildlife viewing tower is the most exciting aspect of the grant.

“The tower will be accessible from a newly improved multi-use trail system and is located in the middle of habitat improvement work that was conducted by the Department of Wildlife Resources,” Bradley continued. “This addition will complement everything else that has already been done in this area to greatly enhance wildlife viewing opportunities within the park.”

In addition to the wildlife viewing tower, infrastructure improvements planned include the repainting of five Laurel Lake cabins and the Visitor Center, the purchase and installation of new picnic tables, gravel for the campground, mulch for playgrounds and new signage to be installed along the park’s roadways.

Specific projects, all aimed at positively impacting the park’s aesthetic appeal, long term maintenance and guest experience, include:

  • Cabin painting: a company will be hired to apply a semi-opaque stain to the five Laurel Lake cabins, which are in need of repainting.
  • Playground Mulch: Mulch will be used as playground padding for the park’s five playgrounds.
  • Campground Gravel: Gravel will be used to firm up campsite pads.
  • Visitor Center Painting: Visitor Center painting will consist of painting the exterior of this facility to match the park’s newly painted hotel units.
  • Park Signage: Park signage replacement will consist of replacing dilapidated and repetitive signs throughout the park with new signs modeled after VA state parks.
  • Picnic Tables: Picnic tables will be purchased to replace broken ones.

According to the application, the park estimates it will have seven full-time and 115 part-time employees, within two years. 

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. or