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Off-road vehicle reps tour Hatfield-McCoy Trail system

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 12:03 AM EDT
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LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – In an area where coal used to be the main source of the economy, a new industry has come into the mountains of southern West Virginia.

Off-roading is driving growth and bringing fun to thousands of residents and visitors to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.

Some of the names behind some of these off-roading vehicles paid a visit to the trail on Monday. The hope is that rather than just sell their products there, they will eventually want to make them there.

“We have proven with as horrible as COVID was for the last year, people want the beautiful outdoors,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. “They want that separation, but they want to be able to enjoy themselves. Here’s the place to do it.”

Located in the southern part of the state, the system spans across seven counties and is the largest managed trail system in the eastern U.S.

“Right now, over 80 percent of our riders that come are non-West Virginia residents,” said Jeffrey Lusk, director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system. “They’ve come from all 50 states and 13 foreign countries. These riders are coming here for vacation much like we would go to beach. They are coming to southern West Virginia and spending an entire week riding ATVs and UTVs and visiting our small towns and historic sites. This is truly trails’ heaven for folks that want a trail ride.”

Manchin said he hopes to expand on the growing industry -- bringing in three of the top names in off-road vehicle manufacturing: Honda, Polaris and Kawasaki to tour the system.

“We are trying to say basically why not manufacture here at the heart of the off-road vehicles, which is basically in southern West Virginia -- the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. There’s no better place,” Manchin said.

Steve Menne, president of off-road vehicles for Polaris said, “We like to learn about the states like today. You learn things that you don’t really know offhand … about the capabilities of the state and then you can make an informed decision, whereas before if you didn’t know about West Virginia you wouldn’t consider it. Well, now we will.”

Manchin said there are tax incentives for businesses like this that want to locate in West Virginia, adding that there are several locations already in the southern portion of the state where these manufacturers could position themselves.

There are also plans in place to expand the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system, with three additional systems in the works.

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