Darren Doyle, story and photo:
One local businessman is asking Edmonson County Fiscal Court for their support in his ongoing disagreement with Mammoth Cave National Park in a park decision that he says is hurting his business.
Kevin Davis, owner of Mammoth Cave Horse Camp says that the park has closed horse traffic on Houchin Ferry Road, specifically the north side of the river.
Davis said the road was first closed “illegally” to horses and riders in 2010, despite a resolution passed by the county in 1945 that said the road would always remain available to the public for normal use. Davis said the first closure came under the direction of former MCNP Superintendent Patrick Reed.
“He did it with no warning, no public comment, no input from anybody,” said Davis. “What this did, in effect, when he closed that road, was he took away two significant loop trails which were parts of the back-country trail system.”
Davis said that the closure has caused a negative impact on businesses in Edmonson County and that normal usage for that particular road should (and according to the original ordinance, does) include horses and riders, being as it’s in the heart of the horse camp tourism area.
“I’m not here to ask Edmonson County Fiscal Court to join in any legal issues, spend any money, or get involved in any kind of a court battle,” Davis said. “But I am asking you to support the citizens of this county that ride horses in Mammoth Cave National Park, and the businesses in this county that rely on tourism dollars that are generated as a result of that, by adopting a resolution simply defining what the usual use of Houchin Ferry Road has been.”
Davis said he’s attempted to work with three different superintendents of Mammoth Cave National Park over the past 8 years to reopen horse traffic on the road with no success.
Magistrate Mark Woosley asked if Amish horse drawn carriages were allowed on the road and Mr. Davis said they were, because they were considered vehicles. Magistrate Joe Durbin asked about the amount of vehicle traffic that was normally seen on the road, and Mr. Davis said it was little to none since the ferry closed.
Magistrate Edd Rich asked if the trails were still open and Davis said yes, but because the road is between two trails that form a loop, riders don’t want to take those particular trails.
Judge Wil Cannon said he was in favor of passing a resolution that defined normal usage of the road to include horses and riders. The court agreed to examine Mr. Davis’ submitted resolution and vote on it in a future meeting.