By Roger Horton & T.L. Headley
LOGAN — While we work to rWhitetail_Deer-Hunting-Top-10-47218estore the coal industry we must also work to better develop and diversify our state’s economy — particularly that of the southern coalfields. Along those lines we have developed, what we believe is a solid idea that will help many of our citizens develop their own small businesses.
One thing we have in abundance in West Virginia is scenic mountain land. We have seen the popularity of the Hatfield McCoy Trail System with ATV riders nationwide. These trails have made use of lands owned by mining companies and land holding companies. The land has little current use other than its mineral and timber resources.
We also have an abundance of outdoorsmen. Many of them trained surface miners who are very familiar with the mountains and former surface mine sites around the state.
We should take a page from the western states and Alaska and develop a system where guided hunting and fishing tours are conducted by licensed and recognized “master guides.”
Most of our coal and land companies are understandably hesistant about opening their land — which often contains hazards such as highwalls, high tension lines, etc. — to outsiders who lack proper knowledge of the area and might pose a danger to themselves or others. Establishing a system of licensed guides who can provide packaged hunting and fishing expeditions to tourists is a perfect extension of the already existing Hatfield-McCoy brand and could be packaged as such, with each supporting the other.
We believe properly developed, this system could provide the opportunity for many of our laid off coal miners to have high quality jobs doing something they already do for fun — hunting, fishing and camping.
We would like to hear your views on this possibility. Post your thoughts below.