WVPA Sharing

Motorized adventure travel enthusiasts gather at the West Virginia state capitol

Release from the WV Jeep Club:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds and hundreds gathered Saturday at the state capitol to support a movement to recognize the motorized side of adventure travel in WV.

The industry includes trekking/hiking, cycling/mountain biking, Canoe/Kayaking, Climbing/Mountaineering, Skiing/Snowshoeing, Horseback Riding, Dogsledding, Overlanding/motorized trail exploration, Safari, sailing/cruising, multisport(which is a combination of different forms of  adventure travel).

Those gathered in Charleston are concerned about state made decisions regarding their lack of access to their taxpayer land. All social distancing and state requirements were urged to be followed, and in the shadows of the pandemic, a huge number of 159 vehicles were in attendance to show their support.

This was the 3rd annual gathering of its type. Senator Mark R. Maynard arranged a legislative trail ride during the 2019 legislative session, as a personal invitation to legislators to ride along with members of the WV Jeep Club. During the 2020 session, it was decided to open it up to supporters, invite them to the capitol, invite agencies, lobbyists and Senators and Delegates to come out, visit with the constituents of WV and other states, and hear their side of the story.

This year’s event differed from last year. One of the organizers, Jerry Bain, emceed the event and with the help of 5 others, worked to improve this years event even better. They included guest speakers, door prizes that included a winch and LED lights, vendor displays, and a jeep show that lasted until 1pm. Organizers, Jerry Bain, Brian Holmes, Nikko Bowden, Josh Webb, Eric Larch and Senator Mark R. Maynard (R) were formed from last years event. They have worked on and organized it over the last year. Jerry Bain said, “we were hoping Covid would be totally be gone by the time our gathering occurred, but considering the challenges of social distancing, we were all very pleased with the event”. Mr. Bain built a social media page WV Off Highway Coalition that helps to keep interested parties updated on what is happening with land access issues in WV. Nikko Bowden, organizing member and Secretary of the WV Jeep club said “I am pleased with the support of the event, and how my club came together to support this very important cause”. Over the past year, Brian Holmes, representative of the dual sport/adventure bike segment of motorized adventure travel said “I am pleased to see my often unheard of aspect of adventure travel get represented. Not only do we want increased access, but we are currently fighting for the access we currently have. Illegal gates, and road abandonment issues are currently being fought. Senate Bill 440 adds protocol to illegal gate reporting procedures which is a battle we are currently facing.” Josh Webb President and representative of the 304 jeep club unfortunately couldn’t make it, but he was there in spirit. Many of his members were there supporting the effort. 

One accomplishment at Saturdays event was the addition of Jason Specht, proprietor of Mountain State Overland. He will be the group’s Overlanding consultant. Specht said “Overlanding is a recent adventure travel aspect that is generating large amounts of revenue and economic value, but is basically untapped in WV.  Helping this group diversify by including overlanding to their interests will easily attract visitors to the state if State agencies will embrace it.” President of The West Virginia Jeep Club Vince Lucas says “I am not fighting necessarily for my access, but for my kids, and my grandkids, so they will be able to enjoy this state, and travel to far reaching destinations, to view our wildlife and beautiful West Virginia landscape.

Delegate Evan Worrell addressed the crowd stating his devotion to the hobby, being a member of the WV Jeep Club, an avid motorized trail and outdoor recreation enthusiast, and also an involved hunter, he feels through these interests, he can represent and fight for fair access across the board. Also noticed in attendance were staff members from the governor’s office, Lobbyist Matt Walker, Delegate Mark Dean (R) Mingo,  and Senator Patricia Rucker (R) Jefferson and her daughter Teresa rode in the lead vehicle, with 111 jeeps and 4X4 behind them.

Fellow Organizer Eric Larch has a business that is based near Charleston by the name of Mountain Made Off-Road. He stated “My livelihood is dependent upon WV state Agencies and the Legislature making the right decisions that affect our industry”. Larch stated, “Its not only my business, but my passion, there is a phrase in our business, “No trails, no sales” so I hope the state is listening.”

One important speaker there was the West Virginia Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel. He announced the opening of the very first official motorized trail on state owned property. He said Monday March 1st is the soft opening of a trail system on Cabwaylingo State Forest in Southern WV that was the brainchild of Senator Maynard. It will be managed by Hatfield and McCoy Trails. He stated he was asked to increase tourism in WV when he was appointed as Director by Governor Jim Justice 4 years ago. Embracing this segment of recreation is something he has been excited to add, however, he has to proceed cautiously with a concern for our land and protecting our wildlife population. Invasive species can be carried into the forest on tires of jeeps, mountain bikes, even on the sole of you shoes. These invasive species can devastate a forest. The Director asked listeners to make sure they spray off their vehicles and even make sure their shoes are clean when going to different tracts of land. The message was well received by the interested listeners.

Senator Mark R. Maynard addressed the crowd stating his involvement in the motorized trail community since he was a child. “I expected to come here to the capitol, let the agencies know about the promises of embracing our industry and I expected it to happen immediately, but it is a slow process, and I am not giving up until we have fair land access and get our hobby recognized in the great state of West Virginia”.  

This year’s event differed from last year. One of the organizers, Jerry Bain, emceed the event and with the help of 5 others, worked to improve this years event even better. They included guest speakers, door prizes that included a winch and LED lights, vendor displays, and a jeep show that lasted until 1pm. Organizers, Jerry Bain, Brian Holmes, Nikko Bowden, Josh Webb, Eric Larch and Senator Mark R. Maynard (R) were formed from last years event. They have worked on and organized it over the last year. Jerry Bain said, “we were hoping Covid would be totally be gone by the time our gathering occurred, but considering the challenges of social distancing, we were all very pleased with the event”. Mr. Bain built a social media page WV Off Highway Coalition that helps to keep interested parties updated on what is happening with land access issues in WV. Nikko Bowden, organizing member and Secretary of the WV Jeep club said “I am pleased with the support of the event, and how my club came together to support this very important cause”. Over the past year, Brian Holmes, representative of the dual sport/adventure bike segment of motorized adventure travel said “I am pleased to see my often unheard of aspect of adventure travel get represented. Not only do we want increased access, but we are currently fighting for the access we currently have. Illegal gates, and road abandonment issues are currently being fought. Senate Bill 440 adds protocol to illegal gate reporting procedures which is a battle we are currently facing.” Josh Webb President and representative of the 304 jeep club unfortunately couldn’t make it, but he was there in spirit. Many of his members were there supporting the effort. 

One accomplishment at Saturdays event was the addition of Jason Specht, proprietor of Mountain State Overland. He will be the group’s Overlanding consultant. Specht said “Overlanding is a recent adventure travel aspect that is generating large amounts of revenue and economic value, but is basically untapped in WV.  Helping this group diversify by including overlanding to their interests will easily attract visitors to the state if State agencies will embrace it.” President of The West Virginia Jeep Club Vince Lucas says “I am not fighting necessarily for my access, but for my kids, and my grandkids, so they will be able to enjoy this state, and travel to far reaching destinations, to view our wildlife and beautiful West Virginia landscape.

Delegate Evan Worrell addressed the crowd stating his devotion to the hobby, being a member of the WV Jeep Club, an avid motorized trail and outdoor recreation enthusiast, and also an involved hunter, he feels through these interests, he can represent and fight for fair access across the board. Also noticed in attendance were staff members from the governor’s office, Lobbyist Matt Walker, Delegate Mark Dean (R) Mingo,  and Senator Patricia Rucker (R) Jefferson and her daughter Teresa rode in the lead vehicle, with 111 jeeps and 4X4 behind them.

Fellow Organizer Eric Larch has a business that is based near Charleston by the name of Mountain Made Off-Road. He stated “My livelihood is dependent upon WV state Agencies and the Legislature making the right decisions that affect our industry”. Larch stated, “Its not only my business, but my passion, there is a phrase in our business, “No trails, no sales” so I hope the state is listening.”

One important speaker there was the West Virginia Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel. He announced the opening of the very first official motorized trail on state owned property. He said Monday March 1st is the soft opening of a trail system on Cabwaylingo State Forest in Southern WV that was the brainchild of Senator Maynard. It will be managed by Hatfield and McCoy Trails. He stated he was asked to increase tourism in WV when he was appointed as Director by Governor Jim Justice 4 years ago. Embracing this segment of recreation is something he has been excited to add, however, he has to proceed cautiously with a concern for our land and protecting our wildlife population. Invasive species can be carried into the forest on tires of jeeps, mountain bikes, even on the sole of you shoes. These invasive species can devastate a forest. The Director asked listeners to make sure they spray off their vehicles and even make sure their shoes are clean when going to different tracts of land. The message was well received by the interested listeners.

Senator Maynard addressed the crowd stating his involvement in the motorized trail community since he was a child. “I expected to come here to the capitol, let the agencies know about the promises of embracing our industry and I expected it to happen immediately, but it is a slow process, and I am not giving up until we have fair land access and get our hobby recognized in the great state of West Virginia”.  

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