Whitesburg KY

Plan calls for connecting ATV trails across region. Do you have an opinion on this issue? If you do, you can voice it Nov. 11.

Letcher County residents will comment on plans for an interconnected all-terrain vehicle (TV) trail in the region Monday night, when the Letcher County Tourism Commission will hold a public meeting on plans for the trails.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m., Nov. 11, in the banquet room at Pine Mountain Grill.

The Letcher County Fiscal Court voted last month to join the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreational Authority, a state-chartered group created by the legislature this spring and made up of 37 counties. It is intended to provide a way for local governments to insure and promote trails of all kinds that are on private lands.

Letcher County is working first on ATV trails.

State Rep. Angie Hatton, who was one of the sponsors of the bill, said it is intended to draw tourists to the region that would otherwise go to other states.

“We are attempting to set up in Kentucky what they have in West Virginia with their Hatfield and McCoy Trail System, and in Virginia with their Spearhead Trail System,” Hatton said. “We hope to be able to connect to the Virginia system through Pike County.”

The state would insure and maintain the trails, providing part of the money through the state budget and part through user fees.

Hatton said enterprising property owners along the West Virginia trail system have amenities for ATV riders that they wouldn’t otherwise have. She said in one place, there are 20 cabins, a shelter for camping, a restaurant, a place to buy new ATV tires, and a place for people without ATVs to rent them.

“It’s amazing what has popped up in these little towns where there had been nothing,” she said.

She said she doesn’t expect any state law changing ATV regulations. That will be left to individual towns and counties to make ordinances. Some want more traffic, others want less.

“Downtown Pikeville has already made it very clear they will not accept ATV traffic in downtown,” she said.

Hatton said most of the ATV trails are already being used, but many are on private land and can’t be advertised. They also aren’t insured. The first step, Hatton said, is to find out where the trails are, and the way to do that is to get ATV riders involved.

“The meeting next Monday is supposed to be for people to hear what we’ve been doing, and also to look for volunteers,” she said. “The county has brought a GPS system, and they need people to ride to map the trails.”

The system is as simple as turning on the GPS, putting it on a four-wheeler and riding.

The new trail authority will cover more than just ATV trails, however. The legislation specifically sets out the scope of the organization to cover “means all-terrain vehicle riding, bicycling, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, motorcycle riding, rock climbing, fishing, swimming, archaeological activities, nature study, off-highway vehicle driving, pleasure driving, water sports, winter sports, visiting or viewing historical or scenic sites, and otherwise using land for purposes pertaining to recreation or trail activities.

The purpose, under the law, is to establish, maintain and promote a recreational trail system, primarily on private land made available to the public by lease, easement or other means.

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