House RR&D Committee Members Tour Jericho Mt. State Park

By Edith Tucker
Berlin Reporter

May 22, 2013

BERLIN — Sunny skies and a light breeze that discouraged the black flies provided perfect conditions on Thursday for nine members of the House Resources, Recreation, and Development (RR&D) Committee to tour Jericho State Park: the very attractive Visitor Center, the new 20-site campground, and miles of gravel trails in rented ATVs, many 62-inch-wide side-by-sides driven by local Club volunteers.

Trails Bureau chief Chris Gamache presented Mayor Paul Grenier with the 2013 “Landowner of the Year” award in recognition of the City’s proactive and forward-looking stance in securing trail easements on land now being developed to diversify the Androscoggin Valley’s economy.

Gamache and Grenier teamed up to give Committee members and DRED Commissioner Jeff Rose a brief history of how the 300-acre City Park and man-made lake has been transformed into a state-owned 7,500-acre ATV-OHRV park

The mayor recalled the key roles played by his predecessor Mayor Bob Danderson and former DRED commissioner Sean O’Kane, both men of vision and tenacity. “But the Park’s creation and development has been the work of a lot people — state employees who work miracles with limited resources and many, many volunteers in local clubs providing sweat equity, plus the Fish and Game Department,” he explained. “It’s a team effort!”

“It sounds like a great story of adaptation to changing conditions,” said Rep. Leigh Webb of Franklin, who also is a member of the State Parks Advisory Council.

Grenier touted the newly created 1,000-mile “Ride the Wilds” interconnected trail system that now provides trail access to much of Coös County and praised the efforts of Harry Brown, president of the ATV Coalition that has brought 15 clubs together to speak with one voice.  Brown is “the glue that holds the Coalition together,” the mayor said.

“Ride the Wilds” is holding its Grand Opening on June 15 at Coleman State Park in Stewartstown.  Brown said the Coalition is working with New Hampshire Grand to market the trail system to people from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and beyond.

Randy Cicchetto, co-owner of the Arctic Cat dealership — Jericho Motorsports LLC — on Route 110 in Berlin, pointed out that the “Ride the Wilds” effort has made Coös County’s ATV trail system the third largest in the nation. “Now we just need to get people up here — to spread the word about our connectivity,” he said. “’Ride the Wilds’ is going to be huge!”

Ray Bergeron of Milan, who owns Northeast Snowmobile & ATV Rentals in Gorham that gives guided tours on rental machines, explained that the area is becoming known for motorized recreation.

Gamache said the Visitor Center’s sewer system is nearing completion and landscaping is underway.  District I Trails Bureau head Clint Savage of Gorham said that everybody is trying to get as much done as possible before May 23, the day ATV trails open in New Hampshire.  Jericho now has 80 miles of gravel trails, with 140 miles mapped out in its Master Plan.

The Trails Bureau only has 13 employees, Gamache noted, however, and the interconnected trail system has put Jericho on the “backburner.

Former landowner T. R. Dillon Logging of Anson, Me., cut the woods hard, opening up panoramic views and creating early successional habitat that moose and many songbirds enjoy.

The 1972 bathhouse on the man-made Jericho Lake is soon to be “right-sized” to provide toilet, shower and laundry facilities. Jericho Mt. State Park is being developed as a multiple-use area, to include sled dog races, equestrian trail riding, and mountain biking in addition to snowmobiling and ATV riding.

Plans are being considered to open a hiking trail up Black Crescent whose now trail-less summit is at 3,264 feet, possibly taking advance of old skid roads, Gamache said. ATV use is prohibited; they cannot go on state lands over 2,700 feet because they are protected for wildlife.

Commissioner Rose thanked the RR&D Committee members, pointing out that they are the “cornerstone” of the state parks system. “What you do in Concord really matters,” Rose said.

Henry Sanschagrin of Gorham, president of the Presidential OHRV Club, deftly drove a four-person side-by-side ATV around the park up to the Warming Hut.  Rep. Pamela Hubbard of Rochester, her husband Dan, and this reporter greatly enjoyed the experience and the spectacular views, including the distant “7” outlined in snow in the Great Gully of King Ravine on the northern slopes of Mt. Adams in the Presidential Range.

House RR&D chairman Rep. Shannon Chandley of Amherst, left,
DRED Commissioner Jeff Rose, center, and other Committee mem-
bers peeked into one of the 5 new rustic cabins, built at a total cost
of $95,000, on Thursday in the Jericho Mt. State Park campground
that also boasts 9 RV sites, none with hookups, and 6 tent sites.
(Photo by Edith Tucker)

 

A female moose, still sporting her winter coat, was spotted browsing
early successional vegetation on Thursday’s mid-day ATV tour of the
7,500-acre Jericho Mt. State Park. (Photo by Edith Tucker)

 

N. H. Bureau of Trails chief Chris Gamache, 6th from left, presented Mayor Paul Grenier, holding plaque, with the agency’s “Landowner of the Year Appreciation Award”
to the City of Berlin for providing outstanding public recreational trails opportunities. Nine of the 20 members of the House Resources, Recreation and
Development (RR&D) Committee, including Rep. Yvonne Thomas of Berlin, on right of Grenier, were on hand to enjoy the Thursday morning ceremony,
held in the BHS-built Visitor Center at Jericho Mt. State Park in Berlin. DRED Commissioner Jeff Rose, 2nd from right, successor
to Cmr. George Bald, was also on hand.
(Photo by Edith Tucker)

 

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