WILLIAMSON – Effective June 15, a new state law will be in effect for southern W.Va. that will allow the usage of ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes to travel up to ten miles on a paved double lined road to access gas, and lodging for the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System.
The new law was discussed at a regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission on the evening of Tuesday, May 17.
George Poole, a member of the board of directors of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreational Authority, approached the commission to provide an update concerning a request for public access from the Buffalo Mountain Trail Head to Delbarton.
Poole stated, “Several months ago, you asked me about having an ordinance where people can ride All- Terrain Vehicles (ATVS) on public roads from designated areas; from a trail head to a gas station or to the lodging or whatever. At that time I told you that there was a Senate Bill that would allow dirt bikes the same privileges that ATVs and Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTVs) have. Well, when the Senate passed Bill 19 and it got into the House. The Governor with the House added to the Bill and it went back to the Senate and it was unanimously passed. With that bill, they included the usage of ATVs, UTVs, and dirt bikes on all double lined roads throughout the nine counties in southern W.Va.”
Poole continued stating, “You don’t have to do anything now. After June 15, it becomes effective that an ATV can travel on a paved road up to ten miles as long as he is going to a trail system or to a lodging facility. So, we don’t have to do anything. That saved us a lot of work and we designed it for the trail system. It is really for tourists to come in that need to use the facilities.”
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith questioned the need for signage stating, “Do we even need signage on the roadways? Or could we just put signage at the trail system trail heads?”
Poole responded discussing that the ATV, UTV and dirt bike riders will be held accountable for being responsible while traveling on the roadway. “They have to be responsible, 25 miles an hour and things like that,” Poole responded.
Commissioner Diann Hannah mentioned that drivers on the road way also needed to be made aware that the road would now be shared with ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes. “Well, cars need to know to slow down too and watch out for them,” Hannah stated.
Poole continued the discussion stating, “This being such a new bill, we haven’t done anything at any trail head yet as far as signage or anything but we would be glad to work with you guys on how we need to do the signage and make it obvious that they can run down there and go to gas stations or lodging.”
Hannah responded stating, “You do need to have some warning for drivers like me coming off Buffalo Mountain that it is a shared access road.”
Smith discussed the need to review past ordinances after June 15. “I don’t want us to have a resolution or ordinance that conflicts with what the state law is. I think it would be better and cleaner if we did a resolution repealing those based on the new state law,” Smith explained.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)