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NCTC gains $14.1 million

June 25, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' National Conservation Training Center will receive $14.1 million from a federal appropriations bill for fiscal year 1999.

"The new NCTC represents a strong investment in our commitment to ensuring that those natural resources we enjoy today are abundant for our children and grandchildren," U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said in a prepared statement.

Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin said the NCTC funding is for operations, training and training materials.

Steve Chase, special assistant to the director at NCTC, said the training center originally was to receive $13.2 million in the budget for operations, and received an additional $900,000 for maintenance and training.

The 375,000-square-foot, $138 million center opened last September.

Since then, more than 7,000 people have gone through the center's training programs on fish and wildlife conservation and management, Chase said.

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"The demand for our services has far outpaced the number of people we have on board," Chase said.

The training center employs 85 people with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and another 50 contract workers managing the rooms, food service and grounds, Chase said.

"Right now we have about half the number of people we need," Chase said.

The additional funding also will help NCTC's distance-learning program develop, Chase said. The center will be able to produce programs and transmit informational broadcasts to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service satellite offices.

The funds also will help keep the ultramodern training center in good working order, Chase said.

The warranty on much of the training center's equipment will soon expire, Chase said. The funding will help keep the facility in top condition, he said.

"We want to be able to deal with problems as they come up and to do preventive maintenance," Chase said. "... There's a lot of equipment, heating systems, cooling systems that have to be kept in good working order."

Byrd announced a total of $28 million, including the $14.1 million for NCTC, for programs and facilities for West Virginia in the federal interior appropriations bill.

Byrd said in the statement that he added $1.3 million to the bill for stabilizing and preserving buildings in the lower town area of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which has been damaged by flooding in recent years.

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