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Hatfield-McCoy Trails budget flat for FY 2020

LYBURN, W.Va. — The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System set its fiscal year budget at the same level as 2019. The Board of Directors gathered Monday to consider their options and made the decision to go with what was already in place from last year.

“We normally would do this in May or June prior to the beginning oft he year, but we waited because there were so many unknowns. We really didn’t’ know when we opened up May 21st if the riders were going to come back,” said Executive Director Jeffrey Lusk.

The trails were closed for 62 days from March until May under orders of a statewide shutdown by Governor Jim Justice amid the pandemic. Lusk said thankfully the riders did return and the numbers have actually exceeded last year’s totals.

“We’ve exceeded every week we’ve been open the same week in 2019. There seems to be a lot of pent up demand coming into the fall,” he explained.

Lusk said two new trail systems will be opened up in the current fiscal year. The Ivy Branch system in Lincoln County about 20 miles south of Charleston will open this fall. The trail was previously part of the system, but closed when the former landowner sold the property. The Ivy Branch system is expected to quickly become one of the most popular trail systems because of its proximity to Charleston.

Wayne County will be added to the growing trail network as well next spring when the new system opens on Cabwaylingo State Forest. Lusk indicated the area there is surrounded by private land which is expected to provide investment opportunity for entrepreneurs for lodging and other trail related amenities.

The board also approved the authorization of payment for land use if necessary to acquire future property. Lusk said it’s not been something they’ve needed before, but will be helpful in future negotiations.

“Now if we do have a company that needs some kind of monetary consideration, we have the ability to pay up to $100 a mile annually to have a trail on their property,” he said.

Lusk said the monetary stipend wasn’t as big an issue with large, corporate land holding companies. However, he said it would give them extra leverage and bargaining power when trying to court smaller landowners for trail space.

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