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Gov. Justice vetoes bill creating regional recreational authorities

By ANDREA LANNOM

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice vetoed his sixth bill Monday — one that would have created a system for contiguous counties to establish regional recreation authorities.

Senate Bill 28 would have authorized the creation of these regional authorities as a joint development entity formed by two or more contiguous counties.

The bill also would have created trails for off-highway recreational use, and provided for reimbursement by this authority for natural resources police officers.

The regional recreational authority would work with private landowners, county officials, community leaders, state and federal government agencies, recreational user groups and recreational entrepreneurs to create new trail systems and recreation management authorities.

The bill said that no more than two of these authorities could be created unless approved by a concurrent resolution or by the Legislature before July 1, 2022.

“The stated legislative purpose of Enrolled Senate Bill No. 28 is to promote economic development through recreational trail development. However, I have concerns that this bill will not achieve the desired outcome and may actually work against its stated purpose,” Justice’s veto message said.

Justice’s veto message went on to say that the state has learned from skiing and whitewater rafting industries that there isn’t an unlimited demand for recreational activities.

“Unlimited and unrestricted state sponsored recreational trail development would create an environment where you might increase total ridership but actually decrease economic development by spreading those riders and visitors over a much broader geographic area,” the veto message said.

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