EAST LYNN, W.Va. — The proposition of continuing the Hatfield-McCoy Trails into East Lynn Lake property was met with negative reactions from community members who do not want to have another portion of Wayne County controlled by government.
During a public informational meeting Thursday, community members reviewed data relating to the expansion of the trails and had the chance to talk with representatives from entities involved. Some attendees asked questions and told representatives they do not want the East Lynn trails to be managed by the Hatfield-McCoy system and it would be more beneficial if it was patrolled.
“They’ll tell you, ‘Well, we need this in here to control it,’ because right now it’s a free-for-all. It’s about 75% party and about 25% riding,” said Gary Perry, a local resident. “Trespassing is rampant, trash is everywhere, and their favorite places to party is around the cemeteries and the churches. It is what it is, but you don’t see nobody up there patrolling. I can’t tell you the last time I saw anyone up there patrolling.”
Perry said with some of the rules enforced by the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, people would not be allowed to visit cemeteries unless it is during the day and they have a permit.
He said he also worries that if the expansion moves forward, people will avoid riding on the trails and instead come onto private property in the area, such as his own.
The plans for making the area part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails would mean 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 goes 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.
People attending the public meeting provided written comments to voice their concerns and whether they were for or against the expansion. Those who were unable to attend can submit public comment until Sept. 2 online at go.wv.gov/dotcomment by clicking “Planning Projects” and then “Hatfield McCoy East Lynn Trail System.”
The website also shows a full overview of the plans.
Sen. Mark Maynard attended the meeting and said while the project could bring revenue to the county, he wanted to represent the people, who — based on who he talked to — were strongly against the expansion.
“Now, what is advertised, there will be more people coming and there will be a little bit more revenue generated, but I, myself, am a voice for my constituents, and my constituents don’t want it so I am going to support them,” he said. “This property has been kind of a way of life for people to go there and recreate with the local people, and with over-regulation, I feel that it’s going to dilute what we know and love about the area.”
Maynard said the property had already been taken from local residents in the past, referring to when the property was purchased to become East Lynn Lake in the 1960s and is now managed by the Division of Natural Resources and the Wildlife Management Area.
Steven Engelhardt, an environmental specialist with the state Department of Transportation, said the public meeting was one of the final steps taken before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides whether they will complete the project.
Engelhardt said before the public meeting, the Corps of Engineers had worked with different organizations to assess endangered species living in the area, other wildlife, historic preservation issues and more to be taken into consideration. After the public meeting, he said there will be a final environmental assessment that will be reviewed with the data, including public comment, and a decision could be made in the next two to three months.