IN THE NEWS
September 25, 2013, By Edith Tucker, Coos County Democrat
FRANCONIA NOTCH — OHRV enthusiasts from all over the state will now be able to speak with a one voice. Representatives of most of the state’s OHRV clubs met on Wednesday evening for the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association (NHOHVA) at Cannon Mountain headquarters, moderated by Tom Levesque of Derry, president of the Merrimack Valley Trail Riders.
The NHOHVA website describes the Association, established in July 2001 as “a state-wide system which addresses the issues and opportunities facing people concerned with creating a positive future for trail motorcycles, ATV and off-highway vehicle recreation,” including UTVs.
The formal meeting’s agenda was topped by the Association considering whether it could best re-invigorate itself by welcoming the 15 ATV clubs in Coös County that make up the North Country OHRV Coalition. The Coalition drew statewide attention when Gov. Maggie Hassan was on hand to celebrate the Grand Opening of “Ride the Wilds: 1,000 miles of interconnected trails,” on June 15 at Coleman State Park.
Both state Trails Bureau Chief Chris Gamache and Capt. John Wimsatt of Fish & Game, who oversees OHRV Enforcement and Education, emphasized that there were a number of thorny legislative issues that would come up in the 2014 session, many already being hammered out in study committees, in which it would be very important for the OHRV community to speak with a single voice. After Gamache and Wimstt left the room, Levesque explained that he believed that the NHOHVA was at a crucial decision point.
The Association, he said, could either be restructured to include clubs from all across the state plus a slate of newly elected officers or it could be disbanded. Levesque made it clear that folding certainly was not his preferred option. The enthusiasm and commitment of Association members has ebbed and flowed, he noted however, and right now the organization appears to be waning.
Although no one appeared ready to stand up and cheer, members from below the Notches, many longtime volunteers, agreed that the North Country clubs have to be involved if the state is to be brought together to operate as one unit. “It’s like a marriage: we’ve got to make it work by the North and South working together,” said Levesque.
Although Levesque momentarily considered a run for the presidency, in the end a single slate of officers was presented for the restructured Association: Brown, president; Charlie Kurtz of Errol, vice president; Jennifer Landry of Pittsburg, secretary; Sean Matulonis of Hooksett, current treasurer who is about to become a first-time father, interim treasurer; and Bob Fitzhenry of Durham, director of public and government relations. Levesque and Jack Wheeler of Center Barnstead also agreed to serve on the executive committee.
All the 20-plus representatives of member clubs cast their votes for the entire slate and, then, one by one, using a variety of words, said that they hoped these changes would result in a reenergized and successful Association.
Brown explained that he planned to work together in the next 30 days with the other executive committee officers to come up with an Action Plan plus a revamped set of by-laws to propose at a face-to-face meeting that will be called. The Association, a 501 (c)(4) non-profit organization, will also need to assess its resources and come up with a budget.
Brown said that he expects to seek the same kind of legislation that helps to make the state’s snowmobile association financially sound with large club memberships. He explained that state law now provides financial incentives for snowmobilers to join in-state clubs and the clubs benefit. Brown said, “It’s a win-win.”
Other legislation will also be worked on, including very specific definitions of the different kinds of wheeled vehicles as well as greater clarity about the applicable rules on roads.
Earlier in the evening, Gamache said that the ATV trail into Errol would not open until May 23, 2014. “The landowner has given permission but the trail, which has been worked on for four years, could be damaged by its being opened up too early,” explained the Trails Bureau chief. Two sections of the “Ride the Wilds” trail remain to be connected: Stratford to Colebrook, and Millsfield to Errol.
There is still confusion in the minds of many as to what rules apply to ATV operators who do not hold driver’s licenses who are driving on state highways, Gamache admitted. Law enforcement will work together next month and in November. Both he and Wimsatt said, “The safety of kids is paramount!”
A number of potential routes to connect Groveton to Stark to Milan in the middle of Coös County are being looked at, with surface roads being considered in Stark. At this time, a southern east-west route is not being sought, Gamache said.
No problems have been reported on the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters’ roads that were opened up to ATVs. Gamache said that 2014 grant-in-aid funding would not include any new trails.
“Funds are maxed out for maintenance of existing tails and no major expansion in the North Country is planned, other than final connections,” he said. “Registrations are up slightly, but not enough right now to handle major new projects.”
In answer to a question as to how changes in the NHOHVA would affect “Ride the Wilds,” Brown replied that it would remain a Coös County economic development initiative. But, he noted, solid well thought-out legislation designed to help OHRV clubs all across the state is bound to strengthen us all.
Edith Tucker (email@example.com), Berlin Reporter, August 21, 2013
MILAN — The board of selectman at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 26, will seek public input on OHRV use, including ATVs, on sections of Route 110A from Cedar Pond Campground to Cedar Brook Road, sections of the East River Road and from East River Road to the Milan Village Store on Route 16.
The meeting will be held at the West Milan Hall on West Milan Road.
"The Trails Bureau will be seeking Town support to connect the local ATV trails to area businesses," explained N.H. Bureau of Trails Chief Chris Gamache in an e-mail exchange.
Marie P. Hughes, Colebrook Chronical, April 12, 2013
The Metallak ATV Club members had plenty of reasons to be happy at their annual meeting on April 10 as they viewed the large map outlining the proposed 1,000 miles of trails throughout Coos County. Craig Washburn, president, related the club is part of the Coos County coalition with the other 15 clubs in the county.
He also noted it would be necessary to be patient as various trails still needed to be made accessible and linked such as the ones with Stratford. However, eventually all the trails will be opened and the new logo, Ride the Wilds, revealed at the meeting, will be part of the common signage from Gorham to Pittsburg.
The grand opening of the 1,000 miles of trails will take place on June 15, 2013, at Coleman State Park. According to Harry Brown, president of the North Country OHRV Coalition, "I expect between 500 to 1,000 dignitaries and people across the Northeast to attend, and Governor Hassan will be present to cut the ribbon."
Trail Master, Arthur Beauchemin, discussed the successes of the past 16 months by members of the club whose volunteering helped prepare the trails used during the past year. Because of this year's lingering winter, he said he did not expect the trails to be opened before May 22, but he will keep members informed.
Many of the trails will need some work, and he will also be contact with construction companies to open up some further trails to extend the northern corridor. One of the issues he did discuss was the need for responsible use of the trails especially as many go through private property and over town roads.
Beauchemin said, "Be patient, our May 22 date is hard to determine, but weather permitting we will be open. However by July 4, we are positive most of the trails will be ready."
He also stated there will be new lookouts in Diamond Pond and the railroad bed will be available from Colebrook to West Stewartstown. The members also learned that the trails should be connected with the Stratford trails by next summer.
Another important issue discussed was the need for self policing and reporting of those who were not respecting the trails. According to Beauchemin, "We are going to have to police ourselves. We will have a very aggressive patrol, trained by NH Fish and Game."
For misuse of the trails, riders can be fined up to $1,000 and an impoundment of their vehicles. Many of the members feel their biggest nemesis will be the locals rather than those from away.
Another safety precaution will be that no child 12 to 18 will be able to drive the trails unless they have taken the safety course. The first course will be offered May 18, and members or interested parties should watch for the announcements in the local media.
In further business, the club nominated and elected two new directors, April Hyde and Mike Falconer, who will replace Harlan Connary and Bill Sparklin, who are retiring as Directors.
The next meeting of the club will take place on May 8 at the Dancing Bear Pub at 7 p.m.
March 21, 2013 - by Barbara Tetreault, The Berlin Daily Sun
BERLIN – White Mountain National Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner has approved a land swap that will allow a 96-acre parcel of White Mountain National Forest land to become part of Jericho Mountain State Park. In exchange, a 76-acre parcel on the northern slope of Bartlett Mountain will become part of the WMNF.
Wagner’s decision is not subject to appeal and Kori Marchowsky of the U.S. Forest Service said all that remains to be done is the final legal work. The exchange is expected to take place this summer.
"This is a big milestone," she said. The exchange has been in the works since 2009 and N.H. Trails Bureau head Chris Gamache said it has been discussed even longer. "It will be great when all this is finalized," he said.
It is a complicated transaction involving the U.S. Forest Service, N.H. Bureau of Trails, and the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests.
The parcel of WMNF land sits in the middle of the 7,200-acre Jericho Mountain State Park, which is being developed for ATV use and includes over 80 miles of trails for motorized recreation. But because the WMNF does not allow ATV use, the Trails Bureau has had to re-route an existing trail to avoid ATVs crossing the parcel.
Four years ago the Cassidy family decided to sell a 76-acre parcel on Bartlett Mountain that fell within the proclamation boundary of the WMNF. Recognizing the Forest Service could not move quick enough to purchase the Bartlett property, the Forest Society stepped in and purchased the parcel. Jack Savage of the Forest Society noted that as a non-government agency, his organization "can move a bit more nimbly than government agencies."
The Forest Society and Forest Service in August 2009 signed an exchange agreement calling for the WMNF to swap the Jericho parcel for the Bartlett Mountain parcel, owned by the Forest Society. In the years since, the properties have been appraised and the Forest Service has conducted an environmental analysis. Based on that analysis, Wagner approved the exchange in a decision released March 11.
The Jericho parcel is appraised at $48,300 while the Bartlett Mountain parcel has an appraised value of $39,000. To account for the difference in valuation, the Forest Service will also receive $9,300 in cash from the Forest Society.
The Forest Society will sell the Jericho parcel for $48,300 to the N.H. Trails Bureau for inclusion in Jericho Mountain State Park. Gamache said the Forest Society is acting as a broker, facilitating the transaction between the two government agencies. He said money to purchase the WMNF parcel from the Forest Society is coming from the bureau's land acquisition account.
Gamache called the swap a "win-win" for both the state and Forest Service. He said state ownership of the parcel within the park will make management easier and open up an existing snowmobile trail for ATV use. Gamache said the Forest Service will get a parcel that abuts existing WMNF land.
In his decision, Wagner said adding the Bartlett tract to the WMNF will protect high elevation habitat and provide a continuous corridor of protected land running from Hurricane Mountain Road up the trail to Kearsarge North, across Bartlett Mountain and along the town of Bartlett right-of-way to East Branch Road in Intervale.
Wagner noted the Jericho parcel is isolated from other WMNF lands and is not reasonably manageable as part of the national forest. He said it would serve a greater public good as an addition to the state park.
The exchange allows consistent land management activities for both the WMNF and Jericho Mountain State Park, Wagner said.
This summer at Jericho Mountain State Park, Gamache said the state plans to finish the visitors center and set up a small retail operation there. He said trail work will focus on maintaining the existing trails, especially restoring some of the initial trails installed at the park. He said there are already reservations for the 20 camping sites at the park. This year's Jericho ATV Festival is scheduled for July 26-27 and the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce and Berlin Main Street Program will be working with the state to promote and expand the festival.
March 18. 2013 9:34PM, By BOB HOOKWAY (Special to the Union Leader)
STEWARTSTOWN - The effort that has combined multiple portions of all-terrain-vehicle trail-building throughout the North Country is expected to culminate this summer with the final touches that will complete the long-planned 1,000-mile interconnected trail network.
In fact, Harry Brown, president of the North Country Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition, said his group has set June 15 as the official opening date in Coleman State Park in Stewartstown, a major hub in the network.
New Hampshire's Bureau of Trails and 15 recreational-vehicle clubs in the northernmost section of the state have been part of the effort.
Increased commerce is a big part of the goal of providing an ATV system that will allow long-distance riders to avoid having to get off the trail and haul their machines by trailer before rejoining the trail.
With the expected increase in riders traveling through northern New Hampshire, Brown said the new network should give a shot in the arm to existing small businesses such as restaurants, motels, gift shops, and small-engine repair services, and encourage new business start-ups.
Coalition members believe joining the trails will help bring riders from across the Northeast to 7,500-acre Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin, as well as to county commerce centers such as downtown Colebrook, where Route 26 leads to eastern points such as Coleman State Park, The Balsams area and Errol.
The trails bureau has been providing funds for portions of the effort, such as last year's $63,000 grant that built interconnecting all-terrain-vehicle trails through the Great North Woods connecting Gorham, Pittsburg and Colebrook. That money resulted specifically in the portion that runs from Coleman State Park to the North Gate of the Balsams, and from Kelsey Notch, over Dixville Peaks to Greenough Pond Road.
The total cost of that effort was estimated at some $86,000.
Amend the bill by replacing all after the enacting clause with the following:
1 New Paragraph; OHRV Operation on Traveled Portion of Public Highway. Amend RSA 215-A:29 by inserting after paragraph I the following new paragraph:
I-a.(a) Any person operating an OHRV along the traveled portion of a public highway, where permitted, shall be required to be licensed to drive as described in subparagraph I(b)(2); or
(b) Any person operating an OHRV along the traveled portion of a public highway, where permitted, who is not licensed to drive as described in subparagraph I(b)(2) shall be accompanied at all times by a person who is licensed to drive as described in subparagraph I(b)(2), who is at least 18 years of age, and who shall be legally responsible and be liable according to the law for personal injury or property damage to others which may result from such operation by an unlicensed person.
(c) This paragraph shall not apply to road crossings or the use of class VI highways designated as trails pursuant to RSA 215-A:6.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
NH GRAND AT A GLANCE (Editor's note: The following column is submitted by NH Grand North Country marketing initiative.)
Save the Date! Saturday, June 15, 2013 will be the grand opening of Ride the Wilds, Coos County, the new 1,000-mile+ interconnected ATV trail system. According to Harry Brown, President of the North Country OHRV Coalition, the all day event will be held at Coleman State Park in Stewartstown and will be presented by the Coalition and the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails. New Hampshire Grand recently assisted the Coalition in the facilitation of a strategic messaging session with all the participants interested in working together for the success of the interconnected trail system. Each of the 15 ATV clubs represented by the Coalition is eligible to have one board member. Next steps include the development of common signage, easily accessible maps, logo and website, and the possibility of mobile apps. February 2013 Newsletter
JANUARY 15, 2013 - Paula Tracy writes about the outdoors for WMUR.com
COLEBROOK, N.H. - Colebrook selectmen have approved a request to open portions of roads on the eastern part of the town and into the town center for all-terrain vehicle use with automobiles beginning this spring.
Gorham town officials are looking at a similar measure as part of a larger effort to make the Great North Woods a national destination for ATVs.
Chris Gamache, director of the state bureau of trails, said Berlin, Pittsburg and now Stewartstown have passed measures to allow the riders access to stores, gas stations and restaurants from the trail to the road.
On Jan. 9, Colebrook joined in as well. About 80 attended a public hearing on the subject Dec. 19 where there was widespread support for the idea, he said.
With Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin becoming the center for ATV riding in the state, a plan is now under way to develop a network of trails which will allow riders to travel from Berlin to Errol to Colebrook to Beecher Falls, Vt. to Pittsburg and loop back with connections between Dixville and Stark.
"It would be a several hundred-mile route if you did the whole thing," said Gamache.
"This would be a national draw for ATV riders. We have a lot of international attention from Jericho right now," he noted.
The selectmen agreed to open up roads after the spring thaw in Colebrook. Those roads include East Colebrook Road, Pleasant Street, Gould Street, Cross Street, Reed Road, Colby Street, Russell Road, Bear Rock Road, Brandy Lee Lane, Cree Road, Bill Bromage Drive, Depot Street and Lombard Street.
Gamache said he met last week with Gorham selectmen, who are looking at their roads and ATV map and may have something in place there in time for the spring.
January 10, 2013 - By Deborah Thornblad, The Berlin Daily Sun
GORHAM - A standing-room-only crowd at Monday night's selectmen's meeting urged board members to support a proposal by the state to allow ATVs on state highways Routes 2 and 16 through the center of Gorham. If allowed Gorham would be part of a loop that would eventually bring ATVs along trails that stretched from Gorham, the southern most Coos County town, all the way up to Pittsburg.
Chris Gamache, head of the state Bureau of Trails, said discussion about an OHRV trail in Gorham began a couple of years ago with discussion on using the railroad bed. Part of that, east to Berlin, was opened up. Since then the Jericho Lake Park OHRV trail system has brought many ATV riders up to the area. Riders say the riding is better up here, Gamache said. Gamache said they are presently working on a loop that starts in Berlin, would go up through Success and Errol, up to Pittsburg, down to Colebrook and back to Berlin.
Last month Colebrook held a public hearing to discuss opening up town roads so ATVers would be able to use town services. In response to a question about how that town handled Route 3 being its Main Street and a state road, Gamache said they are not opening that road, but there are town roads that offer access to services in that town. Recently a bill was passed that would allow sections of state highways to be opened to OHRVs in Coos County only, which allows this proposal to allow ATVs on Routes 2 and 16 to be considered.
The main reason expressed in favor of allowing ATVs on the roads, and it would only be on the sections with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, is the business it would bring to Gorham businesses. Gamache pointed out Gorham has the services these tourists are looking for: restaurants, motels, gas stations, etc. One participant said if Gorham doesn't decide to allow them on the roads, the town will be missing out. These tourists will soon learn where they are welcome, and not. "Most of the communities north of here are upset because they are not tied in yet," Gamache said.
Selectmen Bill Jackson and David Graham seemed open to the idea. Selectman Paul Robitaille said he was not opposed, but had some concerns, mainly about the ATVs sharing the roads with logging trucks, and the age of the ATVers. Jackson pointed out the logging trucks already share the road with motorcycles, and ATVs were just motorcycles with two more wheels, as far as he was concerned. Others in the room noted bicyclists, walkers, joggers and scooters already share the road as well. "I don't have a lot of concerns if there are rules for them to follow," Jackson said. "I see these machines coming down and I really want them to stay in Gorham."
The age of the riders - currently they can be as young as 14, with a parent and if they’ve taken a safety course - was a concern with some, including Gorham Police Chief PJ Cyr. Gamache said Representative Robert Theberge is sponsoring a bill that would require the drivers of ATVs to be 16 and have a driver's license. That information seemed to alleviate much of the concern. Other possible ways of accessing the downtown businesses were discussed, including the multi-model trail. That"s not possible, however, because federal money was used for that trail and there is a restriction against motorized vehicles. It was felt some private landowners would be opposed as well.
Noise was also a concern expressed, but the state of New Hampshire has a 96 decibels limit. Higher than that would be breaking state law. Chief Cyr said he was originally opposed to ATVs in town, but after taking a trip on the trails and over the streets and into Berlin, and with the age limit change, he was now in favor of it. Gamache said they would do some more research into what might be possible on private land and get back to the board in a couple of weeks.
Under the legislation passed allowing them on state roads, the Bureau of Trails would have to hold a public hearing before opening the roads.
January 10, 2013 - By Chris Jensen, NHPR News
The town of Colebrook in the North Country has taken a new step to try and attract ATV-riding tourists.
It's opening up some of its streets to the all-terrain vehicles.
Colebrook's select board has approved opening up 21 streets in the town to ATV riders, says Jules Kennett, one of the three selectmen. "We finally came up with what we believe is the safest, most accessible way to get the ATVers into the center of town."
The speed limit would be 10 miles per hour.
The decision is part of a plan to make it easier for ATV riders to take advantage of an expanded trail network that includes ways to get into town to buy supplies, have meals and spend the night.
Previously ATV riders would have to dismount outside town and put their machines on trailers.
Groups such as the Metallak ATV club have been working with state officials to link existing riding areas. It is hoped that by this summer riders will be able to go from Gorham to Pittsburg.
For NHPR News this is Chris Jensen
December 26, 2012 - By Edith Tucker, The Berlin Reporter
BERLIN — The idea of creating a long trail for ATV enthusiasts has moved closer to becoming a reality.
The draft super-easement needed to conclude a proposed land swap to close a gap in a key section of a ATV loop trail connecting the Berlin-Gorham area to communities in northern Coös has been approved by the solicitor used by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), explained Umbagog Refuge manager Paul Casey at Wednesday’s county commissioners meeting. "We need to make a few minor changes and forward them to the State," Casey said, smiling happily. He expected to have the tweaked draft in the mail to the state Division of Forests and Lands within a day or two.
The North Country OHRV Coalition hopes to develop a Great North Woods ATV loop by June or July 2013 to allow riders to travel from Berlin-Gorham to Pittsburg, south to Stratford and through Nash Stream back to Berlin-Gorham. About a quarter of a mile of this between Success, Errol and the Thirteen-Mile Woods along the Androscoggin River now goes through the southwest corner of the Refuge, however. Because the USFWS does not allow ATV use on Refuge land, Casey and others devised a land swap with the state to allow trail connectivity.
The proposal is for the Refuge to swap an 80-acre parcel for the 130-acre Big Island State Forest in Wentworth’s Location. Because the Forest was purchased with LCHIP funds, however, the state cannot give up its fee ownership.
Instead the state will give the Refuge a super-easement, turning the management of the property over to the Refuge.
In order to get word out in time for ATV riding families to make their summer plans, time is of the essence, Coalition activist Harry Brown of West Stewartstown maintains.
The ball is now in the hands of the Division of Forests and Lands of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED).
As of July 1, 2012, in order to operate on state-approved snowmobile trails, an OHRV (wheeled vehicle) that has had the wheels or tires removed and replaced with tracks, cleats or skis, MUST be properly registered in New Hampshire as a snowmobile.
The tracked OHRV must meet the definition of a snowmobile as defined by law.
The OHRV, with the tracks on, cannot exceed 54 inches in width and 1,200 pounds.
If operating as a wheeled vehicle, a New Hampshire OHRV registration is required.
Machines operated as a tracked OHRV on snowmobile trails in the winter, and as a wheeled OHRV must be dually registered in New Hampshire; both an OHRV and snowmobile registration are required. Both sets of decal stickers must be displayed on the machine.
DATE: October 17, 2012 - Metallak ATV Club
The Metallak All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Club announces the closing of its OHRV trail system effective Monday, October 29, 2012 in the Towns of Stewartstown and Dixville. Upon the closing of the trails, remedial work will commence immediately to repair and enhance the trail system after its first year of use so that they will be ready for the opening of next years season on May 18, 2013.
The club is very proud of its accomplishments this year, as it was formed less than a year ago, on December 15, 2011. In that short period of time, it has raised in excess of $100,000 exclusively for OHRV trail construction as an economic stimulus. A large part of this money came from local businesses that believe in this stimulus by becoming Charter Members of the club by contributing at least $ 1,000. We are extremely thankful to them and they are: Diamond Peaks Motel & Store, Lemieux Garage, Northern Comfort Motel, LaPerles IGA Plus, Brooks Chevrolet, Spa Restaurant and Outback Pub, First Colebrook Bank, Northern Tire, Colebrook Development Corp, Hicks Lumber, Log Haven Campground Restaurant & Lounge, First Run Home Entertainment, Bridge Street Gym & Fitness Center/HD Indoor Golf, Dancing Bear Pub & River Edge Inn & RV Sites, Northwoods Truckstop, Bond Auto Parts, Tallmage Plumbing and Heating/Ledges Motel, Moose Muck Coffee House, Lucas Leighton Construction, and Poulin Sales. Additional sources of funding were the Neil & Louise Tillotson Fund, the New Hampshire Trails Bureau in the Form of a Grant in Aid, which is funded by OHRV registrations, and a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant, which is also administered by the NH Trail Bureau. So far, four landowners have made this new trail system possible and they are Lloyd Howe, Northern Pass, Balsams LLC, and Bayroot LLC.
This significant undertaking would also not have been possible without countless hours of work by the many volunteers of the Metallak OHRV Club and the guidance from the staff of the New Hampshire Trails Bureau.
Planning and construction is currently underway for expansion of the system to Colebrook proper and to Diamond Peaks on Route 26. The rail bed from Colebrook to Cannan is in the final stages of construction and will be available for riding next year. The club, local businesses, and the residents are excited and very thankful for this new opportunity for additional business opportunities and jobs.
It is the belief of the club that this trail system will offer a unique riding experience for recreational riders from throughout the eastern United States. The riding season is greater than six months and it is not reliable on a natural cover to participate, such as snowmobiling. In addition, participants have very limited riding opportunities south of the notches in New Hampshire and in states south of our border. We truly view this will be an economic stimulus to the Great North Woods, similar to the opening of a new factory.
October 16, 2012 - Barbara Tetreault, The Berlin Daily Sun
LANCASTER - As efforts to make Coos County a destination place for ATV riders move forward, a key proponent of the sport is concerned that no agency is overseeing marketing the trail network.
Harry Brown, of the North Country OHRV Coalition, said the ATV trail network in the county represents the single greatest economic development effort underway in the county today. At last week’s monthly meeting of the Coos County Commission, he urged the commission to take over marketing Coos County for ATV riding.
"This is truly an economic development effort," he said. Brown noted that the various clubs are working to develop an ATV loop that will allow riders to travel from Berlin through the Thirteen Mile Woods to Pittsburg and then through Stratford and Nash Stream Forest to Berlin and the Jericho Mountain State Park.
Umbagog National Wildlife Manager Paul Casey reported that Fish and Wildlife Service has reached an agreement with the state Division of Forests and Lands to do a land swap that would allow the trail between Success and Errol to go through. The refuge would swap an approximately 80-acre parcel on the proposed trail for a super easement on the 130-acre Big Island State Forest in Wentworth Location. Casey said the agreement is now undergoing legal review by the parties. Brown updated the commission on connecting trail work underway in the Pittsburg-Colebrook region and reported he will be meeting next month with the Nash Stream Citizens Advisory Commission. He said the clubs have made huge progress on the loop and there are just little steps left to complete. But he emphasized it is important to get the route complete as soon as possible so it can be listed on promotional materials. Brown said Coos County offers ATV enthusiasts a unique experience that simply can’t be replicated in the southern part of the state. He said unlike the 500-mile Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in West Virginia, in Coos County riders can drive right to motels and restaurants on their ATVs. He said the county has an awesome opportunity to attract riders from across New England.
Commissioner Paul Grenier said there is a significant effort underway in Berlin, where he serves as mayor, to provide ATV access. He said there has been little resistance. Grenier said the N.H.Trails Bureau oversees constructing and maintaining trails. He said he believes the N.H. Grand marketing effort and the county’s chambers of commerce should head up the promotion of the sport with the county playing a role.
Grenier suggested all the ATV clubs form a Coos County conference and work with the state Department of Resources and Economic Development and N.H. Grand to develop a coordinated marketing effort. Brown noted there is an ATV collation but said it is concerned mainly with putting together the trail system. He said the clubs are stretched thin creating the trails or what he termed the playground. He said is up to some other entity to promotion the county for ATV users.
Commissioner Tom Brady noted the loop does not extend to the southwestern part of the county. He said if the county is going to spend county dollars, the effort must be county-wide. Brown said he feels some entity needs to take the lead on marketing the ATV potential of the region. "I think it's a huge opportunity," he said.
Commission Chairman Burnham Judd said there is agreement about the economic potential ATV use holds for the North Country. Brady said as part of his family's business, he travels to a lot of camping shows. He said gets a lot of questions about ATV trails in the county.
Sheriff Gerard Marcou said there needs to be some changes in state law to allow the use of side-by-side ATVs on state ATV trails.
October 12, 2012 - Letter to the Editor, The Berlin Daily Sun
To the editor: The Androscoggin Valley ATV Club (AVATV) manages the Jericho and Success OHRV trails along with the downtown connector trail. This amounts to approximately 80 miles of trails in Berlin and Success that need constant maintenance.
All of this work is done by a limited number of volunteers. A portion of the funds to accomplish this work comes from your ATV/ UTV/Trail bike registration dollars in the form of Grant-in-Aid funding and from gasoline taxes you pay when you fill up your OHRV. Per state statute these funds can only be applied for and received by a non-profit organization, such as your local ATV club. Also per state statute, the Jericho Mountain State Park ATV trails would not have been born or continue to exist without your locally organized AVATV Club.
There are costs associated with the operation of a non-profit club that are not covered by grants which is what some of your membership dollars pay for. Since the first Jericho trails were opened in 2006 membership numbers have dropped from a high of over 200 to just below 50 to date. There are many ATV enthusiasts in this area that enjoy the Jericho, Success and City Connector trail system on a regular basis. You may have noticed trails needing work, more signage, obstacles blocking trails, memberships slow to get processed, etc. This is all due to not enough volunteers.
By this time next year you will be able to ride an OHRV from Gorham to the Canadian border. This would not be possible without the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club and all of the other ATV Club’s from Gorham to Pittsburg along with tremendous support from the NH Bureau of Trails. Every club along the way has played a vital role in the interconnection of the trail systems, which will rival that of the popular Hatfield-McCoy trails in West Virginia, while providing a huge boost in the tourism economy!
For the past three years the AVATV Club has organized the popular Jericho ATV Festival. The work involved in organizing this event, coupled with the duties of managing several miles of ATV trails, has put a tremendous burden on the AVATV Club volunteers.
Please consider joining the AVATV Club and offering your help in any way you can. There are many more duties other than physical trail work that need to be done. The club also needs volunteers to make the 2013 Jericho ATV Festival bigger and better. The AVATV Club has regular monthly meetings held on the last Wednesday of every month at the Tri-County Cap office on 30 Exchange St. across from the post office in Berlin at 6:30 p.m. with a festival organization meeting following at 7 p.m.
All are welcome to attend and you do not need to own an OHRV. An enthusiasm to help grow our community is all that is needed. Membership applications are available at Jericho Motorsports, Absolute Power Sports or on our website at www.avatvclub.org and clicking on the membership page.
We look forward to meeting you. AVATV Club Board of Directors
September 02, 2012 - JOHN HARRIGAN: Woods, Water, Wildlife (NH Sunday News)
Last Friday, after a dash out of the office and into the rain for lunch, I spent a few minutes under the protective eaves of Le Rendez-Vous French Bakery in downtown Colebrook, watching the Labor Day weekend traffic coming up Route 3.
It was an eye-opener. Not just for the number of kayaks on vehicles' roofs, but also because of the number of ATVs being transported via pickup beds and trailers. Thousands of New Hampshire people have ATVs (the latest registration figures hover at around 18,500, with many more from out of state), but with few places to ride. And the North Country is now in a position to create one of the longest and best multi-day riding loops in the country.
Briefly put, the ATV (for the uninitiated, "all-terrain vehicle") segment of New Hampshire's recreation scene is emulating the famously successful snowmobile fraternity's organization and self-policing movement in the late '60s and early '70s, and is organizing and policing its ranks fast. It is also forging good relations with landowners and, with the state's help, is working on new trail systems. Whether you like ATVs or don't, and for sure many people don't, this is only fair. The moment the state began taking ATV registration money way back when, it owed the ATV riders something back.
That something is now in the form of efforts to aid the private sector - the local ATV clubs and their friends and supporters in the business community - in bringing to fruition a plan to connect far-flung North Country towns via a giant looping trail system encompassing much of the region above Lancaster.
This trail would encircle a huge piece of territory with a system bigger and better than the nationally-known McCoy Hatfield Trail System in West Virginia. It would be a longer circuit, by far. And Better? You bet - because unlike the North Country's planned loop, the West Virginia trail system is not totally connected. Users have to trailer between sections.
The Upper Coos trail would run in a gigantic circle from North Stratford (a perfect unloading place, off Route 3 in the big field below Burns Truck Stop) to Gorham and Berlin, then to Errol, then to Pittsburg, over to West Stewartstown, downriver to Colebrook and back to North Stratford. Or, riders could unload along Route 16 in Gorham and accomplish the same circuit.
The demographics for ATV enthusiasts already lean heavily toward the 40 to 60-year-old age group and the visionaries of the Upper Coös Loop have that group and families squarely in their sights. These are the riders who would come here not to ram their machines around the circuit in a single day (which inevitably some riders will), but instead would come prepared to stay in various towns along the loop and spend money at motels, gas stations, convenience stores and motels, explore side-trails that local clubs have fostered and then go on to the next stopping point for more of the same.
The New Hampshire ATV Club, one of the umbrella organizations for the various state clubs and the industry in general, lists 21 individual ATV clubs around the state, with more coming each year. There are six clubs in the upper North Country alone.
Stratford's Ted Burns is a longtime ATV enthusiast and a pioneer in (a) getting the ATV ridership organized so as to emulate snowmobiling's famed accomplishments in addressing and solving problems, and (b) stressing the need for obeying laws, adhering to basic trail manners and forging good relations with landowners and other recreational groups.
"The circuit trail is really our vision, our hope," he said, "and the state's starting to realize its potential. My hat's off to Harry Brown and Craig Washburn of the Metallak Club in Colebrook for pushing this thing along."
Harry Brown is optimistic that the dream will become a reality. All but the final link from Colebrook to North Stratford should be a reality by next spring, he believes, and the final loop should be completed by the summer of 2014.
Business people all over the North Country are beginning to realize the potential here. ATV riders clearly want trails that will take them from one destination to another, without having to trailer in between. They want to go from one place offering amenities - food, lodging, entertainment, trail provisions, local attractions - to another, and be able to stay awhile and not hurry. Riders could, for instance, unload either at the park and ride on Route 16 at Gorham or at the Ted Burns field and plan overnights in any or all of the major stops on the loop. The economic potential for regional businesses is evident and enormous.
Harry Brown says the new trail to the Dixville Peaks has been something of a litmus test for problems and has turned out well. He believes, as do many others in the forefront of emulating the snowmobiling fraternity's success, that local clubs and members can foster and enforce good ridership behavior and forge and maintain the good landowner relations that will make the sport and industry viable into the future.
Several North Country downtowns, meanwhile, have come up with ways to allow ATV riders into their midst without causing problems for motorists, pedestrians, other recreational users or residents who don't want noise into the nighttime and others are in the midst of planning.
Their collective aim is to encourage a relatively new and promising recreational and tourism asset which, like snowmobiling, will become a major and welcome shot in the arm for a region bereft of manufacturing jobs, a territory now nearly totally dependent on its scenery, its wild and remote mystique - and the entrepreneurship and hospitality of its people.
John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News.
August 31, 2012 - By Harry Brown, Trail Administrator, Metallak ATV Club
STEWARTSTOWN - The Metallak All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Club is excited to announce that it has completed a new OHRV trail in the towns of Stewartstown and Dixville.
The trailhead is at Coleman State Park where ample parking already exists. The trail then proceeds south on Diamond Pond Road, onto Rusty's Road, and then up an upgraded snowmobile trail to the summit of Sugar Hill where there are significant views of the hills and mountains of Vermont, N. H. and Canada.
A newly constructed OHRV trail then continues down the backside of Sugar Hill - a challenging section - onto The Balsams' property and proceeds along an existing but upgraded cross-country ski trail to the North Gate of the property line between The Balsams and Bayroot properties.
From this intersection, the trail proceeds along an upgraded snowmobile trail with outstanding views to the Golf Links Road near The Balsams Hotel. It continues to follow an upgraded - but very steep and challenging - snowmobile trail up to meet a new trail just recently completed because of the Granite Reliable wind farm that was installed last year. This section of trail offers outstanding views to the west. It then goes down the wind tower road and meets up with existing OHRV trails in Dixville at the junction of Philips Brook and West Branch Clear Stream Roads. The length of this trail is about 18 miles.
We anticipate that another section of trail will be available in the next couple of weeks that will allow OHRV riding to the north by connecting to an existing trail system. Once completed, this will give full access to the North and South where extensive OHRV opportunities already exist.
This will create a 48-mile loop trail, starting at Coleman State Park that includes incredible terrain along with outstanding vistas.
This trail construction has been paid for by several sources: the outstanding support of local businesses; Grant in Aid from the state Bureau of Trails of the state Division of Parks and Recreation, funded by OHRV registration fees: and a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant, also administered by the state Bureau of Trails. RTP funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use: fuel used for off-highway recreation by snowmobiles, ATVs, off-highway motorcycles, and off-highway light trucks.
This trail system could not have been accomplished without the generosity of the following landowners: Lloyd Howe, Northern Pass, Balsams LLC, and Bayroot LLC. Many Metallak OHRV Club members volunteered hundreds of hours of work under the guidance of the state Bureau of Trails staff.
The Club and the North Country OHRV Coalition believe that this trail system will offer a unique riding experience for recreational riders from throughout the eastern United States. The riding season is longer than six months and does not rely on a natural snow cover to participate, as does snowmobiling.
OHRV riders have very limited riding opportunities south of the notches and in states south of the Granite State border.
We truly view this effort as an economic stimulus to the Great North Woods, similar to the opening of a new factory.
August 17, 2012 - by Barbara Tetreault, The Berlin Daily Sun
BERLIN – The N.H. Bureau of Trails is asking the city for a permanent easement across the former Bass Shoe property for its ATV and snowmobile connector trail.
The Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority discussed the issue at its meeting Tuesday and decided to invite Trails Bureau Chief Chris Gamache to its next meeting.
In his letter to the city, Gamache said the Bass Shoe property is the location of a connector trail between the Jericho Mountain State Park and N.H. Snowmobile Corridor 19. He said the prior owner of the property had allowed the state to use it. With the potential that the property might be sold to a private developer in the future, Gamache said his agency would like a permanent easement to “protect both the summer and winter trail opportunities that currently exist”.
The city council referred the request to BIDPA for a recommendation. The city acquired the 11-acre Bass Shoe property last year through a tax deed. The building has been vacant for about 24 years Mayor Paul Grenier also asked BIDPA to consider carving off a section of the Bass Shoe parking lot to use for ATV parking. With the building vacant, the parking lot adjacent to Jericho Powersports is currently being used for ATV parking. BIDPA member Diana Nelson asked who would own the lot and take care of plowing. City Planner Pamela Laflamme said the city might donate it to the state for the ATV park.
BIDPA member Max Makaitis suggested the city should hold off on granting a permanent easement until the future use of the building or property is determined. He said a new owner might want to open up rail access and need to relocate the trail. He said the city, in the meantime, could give the state a right to use the trail corridor across the property. Nelson said she leaned towards granting a permanent easement, noting that the city council is supportive of the ATV park and making Berlin a destination area for ATV riders.
Poulin agreed with holding off on granting an easement until the future of the property is decided. He said a new owner might not want 4-wheelers traveling across the property all day. Caron said if the city donates part of the parking lot to the state, maybe the connector trail could be located on that parcel.
The board decided to grant the state a one year license to continue using the connector trail across the property and discuss the issue further with Gamache.
Picture of the parking lot at the old Bass Shoe factory, just to the East of Jericho Motorsports. Both the snowmobile and ATV trails cut across this parking lot and the vacant lot is also a popular parking area
August 7, 2011 - by Barbara Tetreault, Berlin Daily Sun
BERLIN — An 80 to 90-room Hampton Inn hotel may be in the downtown’s immediate future, fulfilling one of the city’s long identified needs.
Chris Thompson, president of Parallax Partners, a Lewiston, Maine-based hotel development company met with the city council Monday night to outline his plans to build a hotel in downtown Berlin.
While Thompson said the just cleared Rite Aid property across from the Albert Theater is the preferred site, his company has negotiated an option to purchase the city-owned parking lot at the corner of Cole and Mason Street as an alternate location. The council Monday unanimously approved the option to sell the city lot to Parallax for $125,000. The initial option period will run for nine months, with Parallax required to make a $1,000 down payment. The option can be extended another two years with an additional $1,000 payment.
Under the terms of the option agreement, Parallax now has 30 days to commission a market feasibility study for a hotel in the downtown. The first phase of the study must be completed within 180 days.
Thompson said his company has been looking at the Rite Aid property for three years. He said they have discussed the project with Hampton Inn, which he said is “on board with the idea”.
Along with the hotel, he said Parallax would include 5,000 square feet of space for a restaurant or retail use. He said they also want sufficient parking to allow for ATV trailers to accommodate visitors to the Jericho Mountain ATV Park.
Thompson said the hotel would create 21 jobs – about half of those would be full-time positions. He said the hotel could be expanded to meet future needs. Thompson said his company has developed hotels in Maine and New Hampshire including a Hampton Inn in Exeter, a Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, a Hilton Inn in Auburn, Maine, and is currently working on a 93-room Hampton Inn in Lewiston and a mixed-use development in Portland.
Mayor Paul Grenier told Thompson the city is happy with Parallax’s proposal and believes a hotel would be a nice cornerstone for the downtown. In the option agreement, the city commits to working with Parallax to make the project feasible, including helping to secure grants and tax increment financing.
The 37-year old Thompson was recently named one of Maine’s top 40 leaders under the age of 40 by the Portland Press Herald. He was cited for his work to redevelop part of Portland’s waterfront and for projects in Lewiston and Portsmouth.
The ATV festival featured a new event this year that was designed by fellow club member John Higgins from Raymond, NH. John is a member of the WMRR snowmobile club and the Andtroscoggin Valley ATV club (both clubs are located in Berlin) and he has worked on dozens of projects for these clubs over the years. He is also an active volunteer with snowmobile and ATV clubs in central New Hampshire.
This year John came up with an idea to create an obstacle course for the kids to teach them the basics of handling an ATV in rough terrain. The course was a big hit and will probably become part of the venue in future years. The course consisted of three types of challenges including trees, tires and a see-saw.
Congratulations to John for his ingenuity and work in putting this course together and running it on Saturday.
The log course had a choice of large and small logs that the rider could choose to go over based on their ability and the size of their machine.
The tire course tests the riders ability to hang on while the machine is being tossed from side to side.
The See-saw was the most difficult to master. The easiest thing to do was to drive over it. The hardest thing to do was balance the ATV in the middle.
Ben McLean proved it could be done!
July 30, 2012 - by Barbara Tetrault, The Berlin Reporter
BERLIN - The two day Jericho ATV Festival attracted close to 2,000 riders who enjoyed the mud pit races, displays, demo rides, food concessions, and 80 miles of trails at Jericho Mountain State Park.
Local merchants and hospitality people said they enjoyed the sound of cash registers ringing over the weekend as the riders ate at local restaurants, rented hotel and lodging rooms, and purchased gas and supplies.
"The ATV Festival was a huge success," said Mayor Paul Grenier. Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Paula Kinney yesterday said beds were in demand over the weekend with many hotels and motels in the middle of the peak summer lodging season.
Restaurants and eateries reported a heavy turnout from riders. The city opened up all city streets to ATV traffic for the festival and Saturday night, a line of ATVs were parked on Main Street in Berlin.
Randy Cicchetto, owner of Jericho Motorsports, said he sold nine ATVs and a lot of inventory over the festival. "It was unbelievable," he said.
"This is a great economic boost for the area," said Berlin Main Street Program head Sylvia Poulin. Poulin worked at the festival Saturday and estimated that more than half of those attending came from outside the region. Kinney and Cicchetto agreed, noting many riders traveled here from southern New England and Maine.
"Everyone I talked to had a wonderful time. There were very few complaints," said Cicchetto, who is a member of the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club which organized the event. The city was a major sponsor with a $4,200 donation and the chamber also helped organize the event.
Kinney said riders were pleased with the trail system and beauty of the 7,500-acre park and she said many indicated a desire to come back. The state opened the new 20-site campground under development at Jericho on a temporary basis just for the weekend. N.H. Bureau of Trails Director Chris Gamache said the bureau received tremendous compliments on it. He said his bureau is working on its campground permit with the state Department of Environmental Services and hopes to open it soon on a full-time seasonal basis.
"Next year should see even more improvements at the park, as a whole, and the Jericho ATV Festival," Gamache promised. He said the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, the city, and the various partners should be commended for running another fabulous event with volunteers.
The festival opened Friday with a poker run, mud pit grudge runs, and an ATC obstacle course. Cicchetto said the club made over $10,000 on the poker run. He said the money will be used to cover the club’s costs to organize the festival. Any money left over will be go to develop the ATV trail system in the area.
The mud pit races took place Saturday with over $1,000 awarded in cash prizes. Winners were: stock class, Craig Dion, Hope Bowen, and Kevin Barlow; improved class, Travis York and Wayne Bullock; modified, Travis York, Jeff Beauregard, and Derek Berube, and UTV, Ron Dagesse.
Throughout the day, concession stands offered wood-fired pizza, pulled-pork sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers, and Hawaiian shaved ice. Poulin and Cicchetto said planning will get underway soon for next year’s festival. Both said better signage was identified as a need but said overall the festival went off smoothly this year.
"I think it was a great thing for the communities of Berlin and Gorham," said Poulin.
Photo courtesy of Greg Keeler (http://www.keelerphoto.com/)
July 21, 2012 - Berlin Daily Sun
The trail from Dummer loop to Success Pond is now open. Through the efforts of the NH Bureau of Trails and the Sunset Riders ATV club there is now a trail connecting Dummer to Success. There is parking on Blake road on Dummer loop, the trail goes to Success Pond (about 15 miles) and continues on to connect to the Berlin club trails into Berlin and Gorham (about 18 miles to Berlin).
This is the latest step in connecting Berlin to the Millsfield area and north. Sunset Riders is based in the Success Pond area and with the permission of landowners Landvest, Plumcreek, Yankee Forest and Barry Kelley they were able to open this latest section of trail. Plans are now being worked on with landowners with the hopes of opening a trail from the Success trails to the Millsfield trails for next year that would connect two ATV parks and 200 plus miles of riding.
July 11, 2012, by Debra Thornblad, The Berlin Reporter
BERLIN - Jericho Lake Park will be officially opening in a couple of weeks. Several new features have been added, including a new tollbooth and primitive camping with cabins, tents and RV sites. By the 2013 season a bathhouse and flushing toilets will also be available.
The park has established new fees, $4 for adults and $2 for children 11 and under. Berlin residents and all state residents over 65 will continue to get in free, but an ID or some proof of residency will be needed. The state will begin charging within a couple of weeks. "That's been the only question we've received since the press release went out," state officials said.
Chris Gamache, from the N.H. Bureau of Trails, Andrew Zboray, Assistant Regional Park Supervisor and Sandy Young, Regional Park Supervisor, were on hand last week to show a visitor around and explain the new features.
A new tollbooth, at the exact location of the old one, had been put in place the previous week and the five cabins were due within a couple of days. The park will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during peak times in the season. There will be a gate closing it at other times. The park is the only use around the lake. The state owns all of the land around the lake. No gas-powered boats are allowed on the lake.
The campsites are in the area where the city allowed camping in the past. Each of the five cabins will have a porch and will be situated facing the lake and mountains. Each cabin will have two sets of bunk beds and a futon. The cabins will sleep four comfortably, but the futon can be put down to sleep two and the state is allowing six per cabin.
Campers must bring their own linens. There will be a fire ring and picnic table. It is expected the campsites will be ready by the end of July. This season only port-a-potties are available, but this fall they will be working on a septic system and by next season there will be flush toilets in the visitors center.
The beach area has a pavilion that is available for exclusive use by reservation. The visitor's center will have a small store and vending machines. They are working on a Jericho Lake T-shirt that will be for sale. The visitors’ center was built by the Berlin High School building trades program and with a woodstove is designed to be used year round. The local ATV club holds meetings there and White Mountain Community College held a class there.
"We're hoping that the development of this small campground helps all businesses and other campgrounds in this area by bringing more visitors here," Gamache said. The park was established as a result of a flood control dam project done by the Army Corps of Engineers.
It was put in as a flood control measure to stop the Dead River from flooding downtown Berlin. In the 1970's and 80's the city was in charge of the park, but it was not actively managed, and became a party site and problem for police.
In 2006 the state bought the surrounding 7,200 acres to be developed for ATVs and snowmobile trails. The city and state entered into negotiations and the result was the state took over the park with the provision that Berlin residents continue to get free access to the beach and boat launch.
JULY 2012 - ARRA
The Congress finally completed its work reauthorizing our nation's transportation programs. As a part of that package, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) was retained. From the very beginning, it has been a hard fought fight. This is a HUGE victory and the motorized recreation community played a major role ensuring this success.
The program was seriously threatened when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee decided to consolidate RTP with a host of other programs. We knew this "reform" retained RTP in name only and that from a practical stand point, the program was headed towards extinction. To further complicate the situation, the transportation reauthorization process in the House of Representatives had come to a screeching halt.
In response to this bleak legislative situation, we decided that we had to do something to change the political equation for RTP. ARRA did the following:
While we knew we had strong support in the House of Representatives for RTP, the fact that the House had failed to pass a transportation measure made for a very unusual bicameral legislative process. Other transportation and non-transportation issues further complicated the whole negotiating process and the final fate for RTP was held hostage pending the resolution of these other contentious issues. As the months dragged on, we never gave up on advocating for the Recreational Trails Program and neither did ARRA supporters.
To those of you who time and again contacted your Senators and Representatives on the importance of keeping RTP, a BIG THANK YOU! Your efforts, along with those of thousands of other recreationists, made the difference in keeping this program alive and well.
June 20, 2012 - Jake Mardin, Colebrook News and Sentinel
The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Citizens Committee met in Pittsburg on Saturday to discuss amendments to the 2007 Public Access and Recreation Management and Road Management Plan. The committee voted to accept changes for ATV riding on designated roads.
The 2007 plan allowed for the Department of Recreation and Economic Development to allow ATV use on designated portions of road. The amendment designates two routes on Headwaters property in the area of Cedar Stream and Halls Stream. Alternative routes across Magalloway, Buckhorn and Deadwater would be used if Cedar Stream is closed because of forest management operations, maintenance, no designated off-property connection, or safety concerns.
As part of the amended action, the trail will be open from sunrise to sunset beginning in May, consistent with road and regional trail network operating plans and gate openings. The trail will not be open past September 30 of each year.
At Saturday's meeting, New Hampshire Trails Bureau Chief Chris Gamache said the passage of Senate Bill 250 allowed some state highways to be opened as connector trails, and he is talking with Brian Schutt of the Department of Transportation to come up with signage plans. He also said the Department of Environmental Services approved the use of the road going to Murphy Dam and the base of the dam as an ATV trail, which could allow riders to travel from the Great North Woods Riders system through town and onto Cedar Stream Road.
Mr. Gamache said Clarksville would have to approve the use of ATVs on Cedar Stream Road before that can go forward. He also said a snowmobile trail that parallels Cedar Stream could be used, but it would require the use of additional DES property.
The committee voted to pass the revision, and DRED commissioner George Bald has to approve it and the information has to be sent to the landowners, who have 90 days to respond.
To get riders from the trail system into town, the Pittsburg selectmen have proposed allowing ATV travel on Back Lake Road from Moose Pond Road to the transfer station, as well as the town portion of Woodcock Drive. The issue was discussed in a public meeting at the town office on Monday afternoon. Selectman Steve Ellis explained that SB 250 allows ATVs on Back Lake Road from the transfer station to Route 3.
Marie Kirker, a resident of Woodcock Drive, told the board that she owns the actual portion of the road in front of her house, and said that there was no way for the town to have jurisdictional control over private property. An ATV rider herself, she said that in the past there have been problems with people parking at the end of the town portion, partying and leaving trash behind.
George Reno, another Woodcock Drive resident, said he is in favor of ATVs on the road. He presented a petition from people who own or rent property on Back Lake Road that support ATV travel.
Rick Dube of the Great North Woods Riders ATV Club also spoke in favor of the proposal. "If this town is going to survive, we're going to need to bring money in, . he said. "We need to open our minds and think outside the box." He likened the situation to snowmobiles, and said that at first they were unwelcome but are now "a godsend."
Ms. Kirker point out that there is a trail going from Moose Pond Road up over Shatney Mountain and onto Cheese Factory Road, and asked why Back Lake Road must to be opened up if that trail exists. Mr. Dube said this option offers an easier way into town, gets people into and out of town more quickly, and would reduce the number of ATVs on Route 3. He also said Shatney Mountain is a rugged trail, and they have tried to find other routes to get into town but couldn't come up with anything.
Members of the public brought up safety issues, as well. Marcia Clifford read a letter signed by 34 residents expressing concern about opening up the road. She said many people brought property long ago and didn't expect ATVs to be going past them.
"We're concerned about the safety of everyone involved," she said. "I don't want to see a 14-year-old get killed on the road."
Specific concerns brought up were the hilly portions of the road, sharp corners and blind spots. Ms. Clifford also expressed dissatisfaction that residents haven't been kept in the loop regarding the situation, but the board said the information has been made public.
Law enforcement personnel also voiced concern about the proposal. "I'm on the record as being opposed to this," police chief Richard Lapoint said. "My stand is strictly based on safety." N.H. Fish & Game Conservation Officer and Pittsburg resident Christopher Egan said while there haven't been a lot of problems yet, an accident, "is going to happen."
Steve Kiley, owner of Powderhorn Lodge and Cabins on Beach Road, said ATVs can arrive and depart from the lodge, and his guests are enjoying it. He also said that with trails open and people staying there, he is better able to hire local help.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ellis thanked the audience for their comments and said that the board will take the issue under advisement.
May 23, 2012 - The Colebrook News and Sentinel
The N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development's Bureau of Trails will hold a public meeting in Colebrook next Tuesday evening, May 29, to gather input on using the former rail corridor from Colebrook to Canaan as an Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle trail. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Colebrook Elementary School.
The bureau is seeking input on expanding the designated future uses of the rail corridor, which is being developed as a year-round recreational trail. Currently the trail corridor is designated as a snowmobile trail, and will be open to non-motorized uses once complete. The bureau will also update the public on the proposed trail development timeline and plans for funding.
May 23, 2012 - Edith Tucker, The Berlin Reporter
WEST STEWARTSTOWN - Although the technical and legal details remain to be worked out, it appears that a land swap between the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and the state Division of Forests and Lands would ensure connectivity through a 1/3-mile obstacle to create a through ATV trail to allow riders to go from Jericho Park in Berlin to Errol, as part of a Great North Woods loop. Umbagog Refuge manager Paul Casey explained the tentative plans to the county commissioners at their Wednesday meeting on May 16.
Harry Brown, speaking on behalf of the North Country OHRV Coalition, and chairman Burnham “Bing” Judd of Pittsburg both urged that these two public agencies try hard to complete the swap by Aug. 1.
The swap would trade acreage in Big Island State Forest for a super-easement on the southwest corner of the Umbagog NWR in Errol on the east side of the Seven Islands Bridge. A super-easement would be similar to what was worked out between the Conte NWR in its Pondicherry Division and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire that maintained fee ownership but turned its management over to the federal agency.
Surveys and appraisals, using federal "yellow-book standards", must be done which can be time consuming at both the state and federal level. A categorical exclusion will be sought by the Refuge to avoid a time-consuming and costly National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) since this would not affect a large piece of land. The Errol Planning Board would also have to vote approval of the project.
"The ball's in the state's court right now", Casey said. "This is not a recreational activity; this is an economic stimulus; it's our new 'factory'", Brown said.
County commissioner Tom Brady of Jefferson said that he would like to find a way to connect his family-owned campground and other small tourist-oriented businesses on the Route 2 corridor to a through ATV trail from Gorham.
Brown urged the county commissioners to engage in marketing this new "factory" or "adventure". It’s not the Club’s responsibility", he said. "We need a one-stop shop."
Brown floated the idea of having Coos County "apps" that would direct tourists to snowmobiling, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and ATVing, including lodging and dining options. He asked that the county consider forming a subgroup to look into the feasibility of countywide marketing. Brown did not think that the N. H. Grand effort was the appropriate venue.
The North Country OHRV Coalition has networked with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) and state agencies to try to fit together the many pieces of the puzzle, including the availability of parking lots near downtowns, he explained. ATV trail planning and maintenance must become regularized, Brown said. "Volunteers, like me, will wear out," he warned.
In other action, the commissioners embraced the concept described by John Scarinza, chairman of the Coos County Planning Board for the Unincorporated Places (UPs), of collecting public input on the county's changing land ownership patterns. UNH Cooperative Extension has pledged to help develop a survey, compile data and hold three public hearings in the county’s three watersheds.
"We need to know what local residents and small landowners - those who are trying to eek out a living here - are feeling and thinking about how natural resources and the timber base are managed,” Scarinza said. ”Outreach will be key; the results will help inform revisions to the UP's Master Plan."
"The county commissioners support this unanimously," Judd told Scarinza. "It sounds like you’ve done your homework."
The commissioners also agreed that they would send a letter to DRED which now manages the state’s rest areas to inform the agency, including Commissioner George Bald, that the board is distressed that the Shelburne Rest Area on Route 2 would be reopened for the summer season.
2012 RIDES & EVENTS
This is the outcome from the NHATV and NCATV clubs 1st winterÂ Poker Run that was held on January 14th.
This was a joint effort of two clubs working together. This was a fun event and we would like to make it an annual
event. We are now working on a summer Poker Run to be held in June with the NCATV Club.
Â Keep checking ourÂ web site for more info. Also watch our calender for up and coming rides. So far this year we
Â have not been able to set up our ride/ice fishing/cookout on the lake this year do to bad ice and snow conditions.
February's news letter from the V.P
Well folks the first event of the year is over. Seems funny that we had our first event in the middle of the winter but it was for a reason. Many people and members didn't know that most of the trails in the NCATV Club are open all year except for mud season. The other thing to keep in mind, riding in the winter is temperature. If its warmer then 32
2012 TRAIL WORK
TRAIL MAINTENANCE / MEMBERSHIP DRIVE (APRIL 14, 2012)
On Saturday April 14th NH ATV CLUB had a clean up /membership drive. We got some new members and had a great time cleaning up the rock trail. We did some water control, trimmed tree limbs that where over the trail so that rides of all kinds would not have trouble going through. We had a couple people cleaning out the sides of the trail, some doing trash, and we even had time to talk to the fish and game while we where out there. Hat's off to our new trail Administrator Chris Theriault for running the grader and his son Landon Theriault, great kid to work with, he knows what has to be done and he go's right to.
Thanks to all the volunteers who showed up to help out!
TRAIL MAINTENANCE / MEMBERSHIP DRIVE (MAY 19, 2012)
Hello ATV community, NH ATV Club had a membership drive and trail maintenance on May 19th. We had a good turn out and we accomplished everything we had set out to do. We sold some apparel, signed up 2 new members, and we even had our vice president there with his awesome cooking skills. So if you get a chance to come out and lend a hand, or come out and ride, you may even see some wildlife. A member and myself saw 5 deer as we rode down the trail to do more work, so beautiful. Thank you once again to the volunteers for all your help it is very appreciated. 'Til the next trail maintenance day, Ride Safe and Thank you.
Thanks to all the volunteers who showed up to help out!
WARNER HILL STUMP REMOVAL / SANDOWN TRAIL REPAIR (OCTOBER 5-6th & 16th, 2012)
Hello everyone, as you all know it's my job as Trail Master to find people who we can hire for our projects. So I did, the gentlemen in Sandown that owns both sides of the Rock Trail his name is Troy. He accepted the job in the middle of the week and started it Friday the 5th and finished it Saturday the 6th. So Warner Hill is complete. You could never tell the island was there. On Tuesday, October 16th Troy completed the trail repair work on the section of trail in Sandown between Odell Road and the Depot. A layer of 3-6" stone was installed topped with ledge pack. He did an excellent job on both projects.
A HUGE THANKS TO TROY FOR DONATING HIS TIME AND EQUIPMENT TO THE PROJECTS.
MOUNT WASHINGTON WEEKEND (JULY 20-22, 2012)
NHATV Club has met with the Mt. Washington Auto Road management team regarding our event and we have secured an ALL ATV DAY on the Auto Road for 2013. This ALL ATV DAY will be held on JUNE 9, 2013, and we will have an unlimited amount of tickets available. Mark your calendars now to join us for our new ATV Weekend beginning next year-stay tuned to our website for details.