Ground broken on Mountwood ATV trail

VOLCANO – Construction of 25 miles of all-terrain vehicle trails at Mountwood Park is under way, at no cost to the county.

County officials and members of the nonprofit Mountwood ATV Adventures Inc. that will operate the trail system gathered at the park Wednesday for a groundbreaking.

“We thought we’d give everybody a place to ride, plus we’d help out Mountwood Park,” said Tim Graham, owner of Tim Graham Excavating and a member of the Mountwood ATV Adventures board.

The effort started more than two years ago when Wood County commissioners asked county compliance officer John Reed to explore the possibility of creating a trail system without the use of tax dollars. Reed enlisted Lemon and Barrett’s ATV and Cycle, as well as Graham, an ATV rider who has done some work on the Hatfield McCoy Trails in southern and central West Virginia.

Lemon and Barrett helped obtain a $19,500 Yamaha Trail Grant for the project, but the start of work was delayed as officials tried to secure a suitable entrance. Eventually, the area next to the park’s campground was selected, and Graham and others set to work this week clearing trees for a trail head and parking area.

Reed said the tentative opening date for the trail system is Sept. 1.

Reed, Graham, Lemon and Barrett owners Rod Barrett and Paul Lemon and Lemon and Barrett general manager Eric Barrett make up the board for Mountwood ATV Adventures, along with Wood County Parks Director Jeremy Cross.

Eric Barrett said the company obviously supports outdoor motorsports, but they won’t be the only ones to benefit.

“I think it’ll be great for the local business and the economy,” he said. “The hotels, motels will gain from this” as people travel to the area to ride the trails.

A number of local businesses have jumped in to support the effort, with the latest being Parkersburg-based Pickering Associates, which will do surveying for the trails, Rod Barrett said.

“We’ve been amazed too at how many people have jumped in and donated,” he said.

Property owners and law enforcement could also benefit, as having a designated trail space should help cut down on incidents of people riding on property belonging to others, Reed said. Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt has endorsed the project, he said.

“His deputies go out every day and handle calls for ATVs on private land,” Reed said.