Sponsor: Bill permitting ATVs on Kentucky's Pine Mountain Trail is withdrawn
Opponents warned the legislation would have devastated the long-distance hiking trail in southeastern Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – State Sen. Ray Jones said he has withdrawn a controversial bill that would have allowed all-terrain vehicles on portions of the Pine Mountain Trail in southeastern Kentucky.
Jones, D-Pikeville, wrote in a text message shortly before the Senate was to convene Wednesday that he “did what I set out to do and that is generate interest and help get this off the ground.”
He indicated that he will file a resolution next week that would spur action to create an ATV trail in Pike County that would connect to the Hatfield-McCoy trail for motorized vehicles in West Virginia.
“The issue has languished but now we have various groups and state agencies willing to work on this,” Jones said.
With the loss of jobs in eastern Kentucky in recent years, "(w)e have to find ways to create economic activity, help local businesses and one way is to grow adventure tourism," he added.
Filed last month, Senate Bill 102 sparked opposition from the Pine Mountain Trail Conference, which warned the legislation would have “catastrophic consequences” on the hiking path being developed between the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Breaks Interstate Park on the Virginia border.
In a post on its Facebook page Thursday, the trail conference thanked Jones, who invited the organization “to sit on a regional task force to develop a separate ATV trail. The trail is preserved. Hopefully this will be a win-win situation that EVERYONE can support.”
In a statement, the trail conference said “Pine Mountain represents the one place you can go on a long-distance hike in eastern Kentucky. … There are some places we need to use and there are some places we need to tread lightly, and in Kentucky we have struggled with that concept.”
Even if the bill had been made law, it could have faced legal questions.
The trail stretches across private land, state parks and nature preserves and, as trail advocates noted, agreements with public and private entities secured the route used for the foot path. All of the easements “expressly forbid motorized vehicles usage and none of our agreements would be legal or viable if SB 102 is enacted," according to the trail conference.
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