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Riders are shown on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in Mingo County’s Tug Valley area.

LYBURN, W.Va. — The Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority Board of Directors on Tuesday held a special meeting and voted to suspend any further development of the East Lynn Trail system following outrage from the public.

The proposition of continuing the Hatfield-McCoy Trails into East Lynn Lake property was met with negative reactions from community members both in-person at a local meeting and in other public comment forums. The main complaint was being opposed to having another portion of Wayne County controlled by government.

After the public comment period for the project concluded last week, Hatfield-McCoy Trails Executive Director Jeff Lusk said it was very clear a trail system was not wanted in East Lynn.

“It was made very clear that most who responded in some way to bringing the Hatfield McCoy Trail system to East Lynn were opposed,” Lusk said. "We have to listen to what the people and communities want, and it was abundantly clear we were not wanted in this area."

Lusk said there were over 400 comments submitted into the portal, over 12,000 signatures on an online petition and 80 to 100 folks who showed up at a public meeting who disagreed.

The original proposal for the trail came about in discussions with the Corps 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 plans for making the area part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails would have meant marking about 43 miles’ worth of land as trails and cutting off about 116 miles of trails currently being used.

Some trails set to be decommissioned if the plan were to have gone through would cut off access to a few cemeteries, and there would be no access by ATV or other recreational vehicle to the East Lynn Lake.

The proposal included 9,000 acres of the WMA being transferred to the trail system. 

Though Sen. Mark Maynard was a proponent in bringing the trail system to Cabwaylingo, which has been open since May, he was vocal about not supporting the East Lynn plan stating there were too many cemeteries and public access land areas in the current area to want the Hatfield McCoy trail system to take over.

Lusk said he believes the difference in the East Lynn and Cabwaylingo areas is the volume of riding done on the lake properties versus the forest.

"There seem to be a lot more people actively riding at East Lynn, whereas in Cabwaylingo there were riders previous to the opening of the trail system, but the reaction was a more positive one," he said. "The process by which each of those areas were planned and proposed was also different."

Moving forward, Lusk said there will not be any involvement by the trail system in East Lynn, regardless of what the the Corps may decide is best.

"The East Lynn project was just one of 20-something plans we were working on," he said. "We will be focusing elsewhere in the future."

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