LYBURN, W.Va. — What turned out to be a very unpopular plan on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ East Lynn Lake property has been scrubbed. The Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority Board of Directors Tuesday held a special meeting and voted to suspend any further development of the East Lynn Trail system.
The public comment period for the project concluded last week and Hatfield-McCoy Trails Executive Director Jeff Lusk said it was abundantly clear they weren’t wanted.
“Definitely a majority of the folks who provided comment on the issue were just not receptive to a Hatfield-McCoy Trail System being developed on the East Lynn property,” Lusk said.
The idea for the trail came about in discussions with the Crops of Engineers trying to find a solution to illegal trail riding which is currently happening on the East Lynn Wildlife Management Area. The property is owned by the Corps but leased to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources as a public hunting area. By law, no off road riding is permitted on a WMA, but efforts to patrol the property have been ineffective and the level of self described “outlaw riding” has grown beyond what the DNR has the resources to handle.
The idea of a regulated Hatfield-McCoy Trail was seen as a compromise which would have allowed most types of riding to continue, with the exception of full-sized off road vehicles. The proposal included 9,000 acres of the WMA being transferred to the trail system. Lusk said however, no matter how it was presented, the riding public had no interest.
“Over 400 comments coming into the portal, over 12,000 signatures on an online petition and probably 80 to 100 folks showing up at the public meeting seemed to show a consensus that the management there and the trail riding and how it’s managed at East Lynn will have to be something done through some other entity other than the Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority,” said Lusk.
He added, this is how the government process is supposed to work.
“It’s important to us to be respective of the public comments and the public’s input. I feel like the board’s action showed they are respectful of that input and they did take those comments into consideration,” he said.
It remains unclear how the Corps of Engineers or the West Virginia DNR will tackle the issue of illegal riding now occurring regularly on the property.