New River Gorge National River to Close and Rehabilitate Illegal Off-Road Vehicle Trails This Spring

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Date: April 8, 2016
Contact: Julena Campbell, 304-465-6523

Glen Jean, WV –Staff at New River Gorge National River (NR) will begin closing and rehabilitating 28 miles of illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) trails inside its boundaries this spring. The affected areas are all located in Fayette County, in the areas of Backus Mountain, Bee Hollow, Beury Mountain, Highland Mountain, Mann Mountain, and Dowdy Creek. The restoration project involves planting hundreds of trees, of varying ages and species, and using native seeds mixes to revegetate the disturbed areas. Soil amendments, erosion barriers, and site stabilization will increase the effectiveness of the rehabilitation efforts. In addition, the project will restore wetland areas and re-establish natural drainages that have been damaged by illegal use.

The closures are specifically targeted at illegal ORV trails and use;no regulations have changed. The term "ORV" includes, but is not limited to, 4-wheelers, ATVs, UTVs, side-by-sides, jeeps, and dirt bikes. Hunting, hiking, wildlife watching, and other legal activities in the park are not affected by these closures and continue to be encouraged. Pedestrian access and an improved parking area along Sand Plant Road (off Route 41 near Layland, WV) will be installed to allow legal access into the park by hunters and others. Throughout the park, the National Park Service (NPS) land boundary is already marked with paint and signs are posted indicating users are on NPS land. Additional marking and signage will be added during this project in the affected areas.

As one of 410 units of the NPS, New River Gorge NR is charged with carrying out the complex missionof preserving park resources and providing for the enjoyment of the park in a way that leaves it unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. The 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), outlines the regulations that the NPS, and other federal entities, must follow in the execution of this mission.ORV use on trails at New River Gorge NR has always been illegal on federal government owned land in the park and has been enforced in accordance with 36 CFR. ORV use heavily impacts wetlands, globally rare plant and animal communities, and cultural resources that the park strives to protect. The nationally significant unfragmented forest of the park is also compromised by the braided network of trails created by ORVs. The park believes that better hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities will result from decreased use by ORVs.

The funding for this project is part of the compensatory resource damages granted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Beckley Division against Mountain Top Management, L.L.C. et al., Civil Action No. 5:04-0830. The total amount for the Resource Damage Claim, now referred to as the System Unit Resource Protection Act (SURPA), 54 USC 100721-100725, was $98,300. 

There are a variety of legal places for ORV use in the region. The Hatfield –McCoy Trail System is a statutory corporation created by the West Virginia Legislature to generate economic development through tourism in nine southern WV counties. The system covers hundreds of miles of off-road trails which are open 365 days a year to ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs. Also nearby is the privately operated Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park. Its 10,000 acres offers over 100 miles of trails for bikes, ATVs, and UTVs.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 410 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at  

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Last updated: April 11, 2016

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Glen Jean, WV 25846


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