ATV

ATV riders splash across the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mercer County. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act, a piece of legislation that would bring support to facilities like the local ATV trails and other outdoor recreation spots across the country.

WASHINGTON — Federal legislation that could boost and improve opportunities for outdoor recreation — one of them southern West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy Trail — has been introduced in Congress, one of West Virginia’s senators announced this week.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso. R-WY, ranking member of the Committee, have introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase and improve outdoor recreation opportunities across the nation while improving infrastructure and driving economic growth in rural communities, they said.

“West Virginia is home to stunning public lands that bring tourists from around the nation to enjoy the beauty our state has to offer. My bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act will support our state’s strong and growing outdoor recreation economy while providing an economic boost to our local communities,” Manchin said. “It will also ensure our public land management agencies can continue their legacy of protecting and preserving our state’s treasured public lands so that future generations can enjoy them as we have. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure this legislation becomes law.”

According to Manchin and Barrasso, the Outdoor Recreation Act would:

• Direct the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service to establish a pilot program for public-private partnership agreements to modernize campgrounds on federal land.

• Ensure that outdoor recreation is considered by land managers alongside other uses of federal land by directing the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to consider ways to improve recreation when developing and revising land management plans.

• Support rural communities adjacent to recreations areas by providing technical and financial assistance to local businesses, including hotels, campgrounds and restaurants, to support visitation.

• Direct the Forest Service to issue guidance for recreational climbing in designated Wilderness Areas and requires the Forest Service and BLM to designate many new shooting ranges on national forests and BLM land.

• Aim to modernize recreation sites by directing agencies to work with the Rural Utilities Service to construct broadband internet infrastructure at certain recreation sites.

• Direct the Federal land management agencies to identify opportunities to extend the period of time recreation areas on Federal land are open to the public during shoulder seasons.

• The Outdoor Recreation Act is supported by a broad coalition of organizations including the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System.

“The Hatfield McCoy Trail system has been an engine for entrepreneurship in southern West Virginia and with the introduction and hopeful passage of the Outdoor Recreation Act by Senator Manchin these entrepreneurs will get a much-needed boost from the establishment of new entrepreneur and vocational training programs, technical assistance programs, low-interest business loan programs, and loan guarantee programs, said Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority.

“The bill recognizes the challenges faced by rural entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs primarily serving tourist destinations. Senator Manchin, with the introduction of this legislation, is again showing his commitment to help entrepreneurs, businesses and communities reach their full potential,” Lusk stated.

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