E. Ky. families sign over land for adventure tourism

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - For generations, two eastern Kentucky families have enjoyed more than 10,000 acres of scenic terrain on the outskirts of Buckhorn Lake. Now they have opened up their properties to the public for four-wheeling, horseback riding and hiking.

The heads of the Gay and Abner families decided to lease their land for free as part of a regional push for adventure tourism after monthslong talks with county officials and Lt. Gov.-elect Daniel Mongiardo, a Perry County native who made adventure tourism a part of his campaign.

"As far as we're concerned, we did it to generate revenue - to bring in tourism and business," Darrin Gay, of Buckhorn, said Friday. Gay represented his family in the deal.

The goal is to create an all-terrain vehicle trail that spans over five adjoining counties - Clay, Owsley, Perry, Breathitt and Leslie. Officials hope to have the area accessible to ATV riders by next fall, though long-term plans include trails for horseback riding, hiking and biking.

State and local officials have been trying to capitalize on the notoriously rugged mountains of eastern Kentucky for years. A recent state-commissioned study found that the Kentucky counties best suited for adventure tourism are also the most economically distressed.

That's because the region is characterized by severe terrain that has kept the area from diversifying its economy beyond coal mining.


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  • by bob Location: harlan on Jan 31, 2008 at 08:35 AM
    why not hook us into it... all ready got trails going that way
  • by observer Location: lexington on Nov 27, 2007 at 09:24 PM
    Mongiardo is a doctor. What better way to drum up business than to make it easier for folks to get injured on atvs, or by being thrown from a horse that was spooked by one. It would be comically ironic if Dr, E. Fletcher got to treat some of the victims.
  • by Mary Location: L on Nov 25, 2007 at 08:24 AM
    I am very grateful for what these two families have done for Eastern Ky. I have lived here, except for a few years spent in other states working, for most of my life and have always loved these mountains. When I was away I could not wait to return. I hope everyone will be happy & appreciative with this move. I have heard over & over 'there is nothing to do'..well that will slowly change with this wonderful trail with multiple uses and other things coming later.
  • by Karen Location: Illinois on Nov 25, 2007 at 05:29 AM
    Wow! How cool! We've been coming down a couple of times a year for several years to ride in Breathitt with cousins. People up here in Illinois are always asking us if they can ride there too. This should be BIG! Congratulations SE KY.
  • by lisa Location: hazard on Nov 24, 2007 at 04:23 PM
    you never discuss what happens in the hazard area.for example,there was a bad car accident on new 80 wednesday nov.21 going toward super walmart. one vehicle was overturned. i have not heard the first thing about it. if you want any news from hazard you have to listen to the radio!
  • by Michael Location: Ky on Nov 24, 2007 at 10:58 AM
    The reason these counties are so economically distressed is the Democratic party of KY have done nothing to improve the quality of life for East Kentucky. Their corrupt leadership has destroyed that part of Kentucky. I consider myself an optimist, however I don't see it ever improving there.
  • by gene Location: morehead on Nov 24, 2007 at 09:37 AM
    I wish to thank the Gay and Abner families. I do not have a four wheeler and have never been on one,but I love to hike trails. Eastern Ky is a beautiful place which needs to be appreciated and protected. Sure hope everyone will appreciate these two families shareing their land. Again thank you.
  • by anonymous on Nov 24, 2007 at 09:29 AM
    I have often wondered why eastern Ky has not picked up on the ecotourism. Specifically mountain biking, if landowners implemented a trail system for the cycling population, locally economies would prosper from the revenues received from people travelling form other areas to enjoy the mountains.

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