The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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Opinion

August 1, 2010

Big dividends

— Ten years ago, just over 3,800 riding permits were sold for the Hatfield-McCoy Recreational Trail System.

Now chew on this.

In 2010, officials are expecting the purchase of some 35,000 permits. Riders from all 50 states and 13 foreign countries have experienced the trail; 44 new businesses have been started as a direct result of the system; and 75 percent of those who try it come back. The town of Gilbert has been reinvented thanks to the millions of tourism dollars being spent by those interested in exploring our mountain terrain (See a related feature story on Page 1C).

“I don’t think any of us could fully grasp how successful the trail system has been,” said Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the trails authority.

Considering those statistics, it really is a bit hard to fathom what is actually taking place with this huge recreational draw here in southern West Virginia.

And work is under way to keep growing the system until it includes more than 1,000 miles of trails. It will be the largest managed ATV riding area in the country.

The trail is obviously being managed properly by Lusk and his staff and the results are nothing short of staggering — in a great way.

Some people in the public and private sector had a vision not that long ago and it has paid handsome dividends so far. The potential for additional growth seems to point to a substantial, steady stream of revenue for many years to come.

We doff our helmets to all those who have played a part in this wonderful success story.

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