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Cut & pasted from the North Country OHRV Coalition- the home of Ride The Wilds Facebook Link @ https://www.facebook.com/NorthCountryOhrvCoalitionTheHomeOfRideTheWilds?fref=nf

The following was our testimony to the Nash Stream State Forest Citizens Advisory Committee yesterday in Lancaster:

Chairman Lanier, members of the Committee, and other distinguished guests. Thank you for allowing us to testify today. My name is Harry Brown and I reside at Diamond Pond in Stewartstown. I am the President of the New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association; otherwise know as NHOHVA, representing the consumers/participants of the sport throughout New Hampshire and New England. In addition, I am the President of the North Country OHRV Coalition - the home of RIDE THE WILDS, Coos County, NH 1,000+ miles of interconnected ATV trails, a group of 17 OHRV and 4 Chamber of Commerce's in Coos County - an economic stimulus for Coos County. Our constituent base is in excess of 20,000.

First, the very complex process it took to acquire this property along with many other parcels throughout the state awes us. It took incredible negotiating skills including a creative financing package. In addition, it took incredible cooperation with many partners including several not for profits, municipalities, the state, and the Federal Government. This was over 25 years ago and look at the gem that has been preserved from development. We realize that this particular property is a complete ecosystem that has abundant wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Since its purchase, this property has been managed through a cooperative effort of the State of New Hampshire, specifically DRED, and the USDA Forest Service. In the end, if it were not for a loan by The Nature Conservancy and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, pending the receipt of funds from the federal government for their portion of the purchase price, this acquisition would not have happened. We as a society are indebted to all for accomplishing this undertaking!

As result of the USDA Forest Service holds a Conservation Easement on the property and this easement provides for multiple use management including recreation. One of the goals stated in the purchase statement was to provide continued public access for recreation. That vision created the Nash Stream State Forest and we are here today to discuss upgrading the management plan for the next 15 years.
Prior to going into the details of our request we would like to make a point of clarification - during our testimony, we will be replacing the term All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) with Off Highway Recreational Vehicle (OHRV) as is defined in the New Hampshire Revised Statures Annotated in our testimony.
As a current user group, and a user group wishing to have greater access to the Nash Stream State Forest we would like to request some VERY limited additional usage of the Nash Stream State Forest.

Project #1: To make the OHRV trail that presently runs from Kelsey Notch to Diamond Peaks to Bungy Road a permanent OHRV trail (currently it is on a trial basis), including it in the fifteen year plan. This trail was constructed a year ago to OHRV trail specifications and has been successfully used for a year as both a snowmobile and OHRV trail. This proposal has the support of the local OHRV club - the Metallak ATV.

Project #2: Extend the use of OHRV's on the West Side Road, south to the end (access for fuel), approximately +1 mile. In addition, allow construction of an east/west (Nash Stream Road east towards Milan) OHRV trail corridor as a Ride the Wilds connector trail, hooking Groveton and Milan together. , to be developed from the east road to the easterly property line and alternate trail to that trail, so if that main trail is not available due to logging operations or the such. This proposal has the support of the local OHRV club - the North Country ATV.

Project #3: Upgrade Snowmobile Trail Corridor #5 to OHRV specifications so that this trail could become Ride the Wilds OHRV Trail Corridor B - linking Columbia to Stratford. This trail would link Kelsey Notch to Champion Road in Columbia. The current trail utilizes town roads. We would like to get the trails off town roads as much as possible. This proposal has the support of the local OHRV club - the Metallak ATV.

Project #4: Our final request would be to allow OHRV's access to the existing roads that registered motor vehicles currently have access to including trail bikes that legally registered as motor vehicles. At the current moment, New Hampshire RSA's do not consider OHRV's a motor vehicle but this could change in the future. We have asked all the communities in Coos County to allow usage of many of their roads for OHRV traffic as a part of the economic initiative and all have embraced this economic initiative by opening up some of or not all of their roads. All we are asking here is that the Nash Stream State Forest allows usage of the roads by properly registered OHRV's. We feel that our market potentially includes riders from throughout the eastern United States who would enjoy riding from the interconnected trail system up into the Nash Stream State Forest in a leisurely pace for family enjoyment. We feel that many of our guests to Coos County would not normally take advantage of this opportunity by traditional motor vehicle but would on an OHRV. Currently, the plan states "Motor Vehicle Access - Traditional public access by conventional motor vehicle will be continued on the Main Road and Fourteen and a Half Road". This proposal has the support of the local OHRV club - the North Country ATV.

This past week an electronic vote of the New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association and the North Country OHRV Coalition was conducted. All the members support these four projects 100%. In addition, let us point out that the limited use of the East Side Road over the past few years by OHRVers has not ferreted out any significant problems but has a matter of fact been without any significance issues. This is a testament that OHRVers can and will respect where they can ride. Our experience, in other areas where there have been issues, it is either caused by "entitled" group, camp owners or disrespectful locals - just continuing to do as they always have. Our experience with Ride the Wilds, including that part of the system that is in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters, is that our guests do not venture off the marked trail. After all they are in the Great North Woods - equal to the Yukon Territory to them - so if they venture off, they will surely get lost or be eaten by a bear - or, just maybe, they respect what an incredible opportunity has been created for their pleasure. Many of these riders are Baby Boomers that want to experience the great outdoors - albeit a limited experience in the outdoors - maybe not as some see they should be enjoying it but nevertheless, enjoying it in a very limited way - not the same way that a hiker, cross country skier or such - but still enjoying it. Should they be able to have this opportunity? Yes, we believe so. We want the environmental affects to be minimal - we believe that our request meets this litmus test.

In closing, let us be absolutely clear - we do not want nor advocate that another Jericho State Park be created within the Nash Stream State Forest. Quite to the contrary, we totally respect the purpose of this State Forest but we feel limited expanded access into the forest by our user group should have warranted consideration. In summary, we request allowing OHRVing in the following limited areas - permanently adopt the Kelsey to Route 26 to Bungy Road in Columbia; we want to be able to go south + a mile on the East Side Road, travel the two dirt roads that registered motor vehicles already are allowed in, construct an east/west Ride the Wilds Corridor trail from the West Side Road easterly towards Milan - connecting Groveton to Milan; and upgrade a current snowmobile trail from Kelsey Notch South to Champion Road in Columbia. Our request might seem large, but in reality, it is very small in total scoop when you consider the entire forest and we believe will have very little impact.
Thank you for allowing our testimony and are there any questions?

Harry C. Brown, President
New Hampshire Off Highway Vehicle Association and the North Country Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition - RIDE THE WILDS of Coos County NH - a 1,000+ miles of Interconnected ATV Trails

[email protected]
 
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