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Legislators Hear About Increased ATV, UTV Infrastructure Needs During Interims


In a Sunday meeting, members of the state legislature’s Select Committee on Infrastructure heard about connecting more West Virginia towns with roads meant for outdoor vehicles like All Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs.

“In southern West Virginia, those ATVs have become a second mode of transportation,” executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority Jeffery Lusk said. “Families that only had one car have oftentimes taken the onus to get their units licensed so that they can be on the road. And it’s given them a second mode of transportation.

Despite the increasing popularity in the region, some of the state’s ATV trails aren’t connected to local towns. Riders and tourists regularly use state highways instead, causing safety concerns.

Lusk said more of these roads would also help connect even more towns in southern West Virginia to the state’s outdoor tourism economy. More than 94,464 riders visited the Hatfield-McCoy trail system in 2021, with 80 percent of riders from out of state.

“These towns have built up restaurants, lodging, ATV rental companies around the fact that we connect to the towns,” Lusk said.

Also present at the meeting was James Ratino of the Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance. He said revitalizing local economies by rebranding them into “trail towns” is a regional effort, with many communities in western Maryland sharing much in common with those in West Virginia.

“Locally, this has helped this town of Kitzmiller with some serious revitalization. They’re replacing lost jobs,” Ratino said.

Del. John Hardy, R-Berkeley, expressed interest in a potential economic impact study on more outdoor vehicle infrastructure for the next legislative session. Seventeen towns in the state are currently connected to the Hatfield-McCoy trail system.