The Tucker County Commission heard a presentation this week from a Friends of the Cheat committee about a planned designation of a Cheat River water trail.
Cheat River Water Trail Committee members Janet Preston, Jim Snyder and Patrick McCann addressed the commissioners Wednesday to explain the benefits that water trail designation from the National Water Trail System could bring to the area. Their first steps in the process are garnering local support.
"We hope you will do a resolution of support," Preston said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
From left, Jim Snyder, Patrick McCann and Janet Preston, from the Cheat River Water Trail Committee, discuss designation of the Cheat River as a water trail at the Tucker County Commission meeting this week.
Designation from the National Water Trail System would allow Friends of the Cheat to apply for grants that could assist the creation of maps and guides, improve access to river sites, provide safety education and enable private land owners to have liability protection if they are involved with an access site, committee documents said.
Liability protection could be obtained by working with the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Highways and Friends of the Cheat.
Availability, and legal issues, concerning river access sites were brought up by Commissioner Lowell Moore.
"Please work with the property owners," he said, stressing the need for cooperative, not forced, access points.
"This is not a 'force anything' procedure," Preston said.
"Designation makes it easy for a private property owner to participate," she said, referencing liability protection. "It brings protection through the DNR."
Commissioner James Carr asked the group to consider a safety system that would allow river users to log their entry and exit times and locations. He suggested creating a website to fulfill that purpose.
Commissioner Mike Rosenau asked about handicap accessibility at river access points.
"We hope that at least one site will be handicap accessible," Preston said.
"The map will be able to let them know," said McCann, referencing maps that could be made available to patrons once water trail status has been achieved.
Concerning the committee's quest for support, Preston said the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau donated $5,000 to help it get started.
She also said the Preston County Commission has granted a resolution of support.
The creation of public meetings, to gather public support for the river project, are planned for the coming months, said Preston. She said the committee will keep the commission advised of the project's status.
The commission did not vote on any resolution of support at the meeting.
Also during Wednesday's meeting:
He is seeking the allowance of ATV use on roads within the forest. Presently, any ATV use can result in a $5,000 fine, he said.
"Are you asking for it only on existing roads or on (hiking) trails, too?" Moore asked.
"No trails," Cooper responded, saying he only wants to grant access to roads that already support trucks and cars.
The response to his proposal has been mixed.
Cooper said he received support from Randolph County and Webster County officials, including support from the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Disabled citizens and veterans are raising objections to the current restriction, he said.
On the other hand, Cooper said the U.S. Forest Service continues to uphold the limitation.
"I need more public support," he said.
An expression of support will be voted on in a future meeting, commissioners said. It could not be voted on during Wednesday's meeting because it wasn't specifically listed on the agenda.
- Ben Herrick, president of the Tucker County Planning Commission, an advisory board to the County Commission, presented the Tucker County Comprehensive Plan to commission members.
The Comprehensive Plan is a booklet that covers land use, road access, housing, infrastructure, public services, emergency services, recreation opportunities, tourism and historic preservation sites throughout the county, he explained.
Current structures and opportunities are listed, and goals and strategies for the future are stated. Herrick said the creation of this document is required by state code and it can be found on the commission's website at www.tuckercountycommission.com.
The plan will be looked over by the commissioners and placed on a future agenda so that its adoption can be put to a vote.
- The final action item on the agenda was considered in an executive session. After coming out of the session, commissioners voted to approve William Dilly as the county clerk of the works for the month of November.
Contact Casey Houser by email at email@example.com.