Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Editorials

July 15, 2014

Under construction: Virginia trail adds to ATV appeal

— ATV riders from across the country who are currently traveling to the mountains of southern West Virginia to ride the existing Hatfield-McCoy Trail system should take note of an exciting new development in our region. Construction is now underway on the long-awaited seven-county Southwest Virginia Spearhead Trail system, which will link with the existing Pocahontas leg of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system near Bramwell.

By bringing the Spearhead Trail system within reach of the state-line border of Virginia and West Virginia, the Southwest Virginia Regional Recreational Authority has, in essence, created a new two-state tourism link between Tazewell and Mercer counties. That means ATV riders will be able to cross the state line border and ride both the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system and soon the new Spearhead Trail system.

In-house crews began quietly working on the Spearhead Trail on June 13, according to Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer. He says construction on the first 30-mile segment of the trail system between Pocahontas and Boissevain is now about half finished. A trail head is being development at the Boissevain Coal Miners Memorial Park.

“Our guys are going as fast as they can do it,” Spencer said last week. “We are building it in-house with county forces. We are working in conjunction with the (Southwest Virginia Regional Recreational Authority) and we will turn the trail over to them to operate.”

Spencer says the new trail system has been four years in the making for Tazewell County.

“We could not begin construction until the Southwest Virginia Recreational Authority issued us a notice to proceed,” Spencer said. “They could not give us a notice to proceed until they had all of the land agreements in place. It wasn’t the county. It was the Southwest Virginia Regional Recreational Authority that was getting the land agreements. This is a joint project.”

The Virginia General Assembly created the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority in 2009 for the purpose of overseeing the development and management of the seven-county Spearhead Trail system. The intent at the time was to create a new economic development and tourism engine for Southwest Virginia through the development of new trails for ATV riders, bikers, hikers, horseback riders, naturalists and others.

We are thrilled to see that construction is finally underway on the long-awaited Spearhead Trail system, and we look forward to the upcoming grand-opening celebration planned by the county and the regional recreation authority. This is great news for both Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, and the many ATV visitors currently riding the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system. It’s also a great example of what can be accomplished to boost tourism and economic development in our area through regional cooperation.

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