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.