CORBIN – The Bell County Tourism Commission has approved a $100,000 donation to the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation to be used in the development of the Appalachian Wildlife Center. The Center is scheduled to open in 2019, and by its fifth year of operations is expected to attract 638,000 tourists a year to the Bell County site resulting in the creation of over 2,300 jobs and generating over $124,000,000 a year in regional economic impact.
Eighty percent of the Wildlife Center visitors are expected to be overnight travelers from outside the region. They will not just be passing through Bell County, Bell County will be their destination.
Appalachian Wildlife Foundation Board Chairman Frank Allen commented, “I can’t overstate how important this donation is to our efforts. We are in contact with philanthropic donors across the state and nation for this project, and the question they all ask is, ‘How strong is the local support for the project?’ This donation answers that question with an exclamation point. I can’t thank the Tourism Commission enough for this strong demonstration of support.”
The Wildlife Center will be a one-of-a-kind attraction, covering 19 square miles with a 40,000 square foot visitor center. It will be home to free ranging elk, deer, black bear, bobcat, wild turkey and numerous small mammals. During the year, over 230 species of birds can be found on the property. It is expected to attract wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers from across the state.
Bell County Tourism Commission Director Jon Grace stated, “The Appalachian Wildlife Center Project can bring about enormous potential for tourism not only for Bell County, but for our entire region. In a time where our county needs a catalyst, a project like this can help provide exactly that. Tourism in our area is growing by leaps and bounds, and this project can serve as a focal point for people looking to come and experience our beautiful home in the mountains of Bell County.”
The Appalachian Wildlife Center will open to the public in 2019 with work beginning on site in 2016.
The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation is a Corbin based nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization.