Governor Hassan Cuts Ribbon for Ride the Wilds Trails
As if to hail the success of the June 15
opening of the North Country ATV trails called Ride the Wilds, the sun broke out
in full force after a week of constant rain.
At the opening ceremonies, at Coleman State Park, at little Diamond Pond in Stewartstown, Harry Brown welcomed the Governor and dignitaries to the celebration saying, “Thank you for coming to help us, the North Country OHRV Coalition and the NH Trails Bureau celebrate the grand opening of Ride the Wilds, a 1,000+ miles of interconnected ATV trails in Coos County, NH.”
He also took time to acknowledge the organizers of the event, Co-Chairmen Michele and Clayton Hinds, and committee members: Wayne Frizzell, Henry Sanschagrin, Craig Washburn, and Charlie Kurtz. Even though during the previous weeks, Brown said there were some snags in the process, thanks to the efforts of John Barthelmes, N.H. Commissioner of Public Safety, Early Sweeney from Public Safety, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Pam Walsh, plus Chris Gamanche and Clint Savage of the Bureau of Trails, the issue of using certain state highways as approved by SB 250, but mired down because of some mix ups, was now firmly in place.
Even with the problem with some of the trails because of the steady downpours which could have cancelled the event, Brown was able to succeed in getting a route to the park opened and approved because of the Colebrook Selectmen and Town Manager Becky Merrow, who with the approval of Dan Hebert from the Balsams decided on an alternate route. The final piece was in place once Chris Gamanche contacted N.H. DOT and two electric message boards were in place announcing the ATV traffic on Diamond Pond Road.
In his remarks, Brown noted among the many reasons the trails are so successful is the cooperation everyone involved received from the private landowners. In fact, every person who spoke lauded the landowners for their willingness to allow the ATV’s on their property, and because of the self-policing and other enforcement, only minor problems have occurred as more and more people use the trails.
Not only have landowners played a major role
in allowing the connecting trails, but there has been cooperation between all of
Coos County municipalities, local police departments, Fish and Game personnel,
Border Patrol, State Police, and the Coos County Sherriff’s Dept. The
communities involved are also offering OHRV classes, proper signage, and active
The whole idea behind the trails is to bring a new economy to the North Country which will provide services such as fuel, food, repairs, lodging, camps, parking, and overall prosperity to the North Country. Since the Coalition is a nonprofit organization,
Brown wanted to acknowledge all those who have helped fund the effort and they are: Colebrook Downtown Development Authority, Coos Economic Development Corporation, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, the Polaris Foundation, and the Tillotson North Country Foundation, Inc. Two other people Brown acknowledged and awarded special plaques to were Sean Goodwin and Patricia Magoon, who mapped the trails for 911. Magoon said, “My husband Ken and I truly love and have enjoyed the North Country for many years. We are snowmobile enthusiasts and now to enhance our enjoyment up north we really look forward to riding the ATV trails.
The public safety aspect of being out in the open wilderness has always been near and dear to my heart. I appreciate the efforts of Bruce G. Cheney, Director, Sean Goodwin and his staff (Chris Boivin and Jim Goss), Dept. of Safety Division of Emergency Services who have been working hard for years to keep the mapping of the trails always current. I am also extremely impressed with Harry Brown and Chris Gamache for their tireless efforts for making the Ride the Wilds an important family sporting event of the Great North Woods experience for years to come.”
Maps of all the trails were available at the welcome booth at the park, and are available from all 17 of the local ATV clubs belonging to the Coalition.
After Brown concluded his remarks, he introduced Governor Maggie Hassan, who had already been treated to a VIP tour of the nearby trails.
In her remarks, Governor Hassan said, “I am excited to be here for Ride the Wilds’ grand opening, and realize that this has not been a simple endeavor, but definitely demonstrates the all hands of deck ethos of the people of New Hampshire, especially in the North Country. Everyone in the state will be able to look at these trails and know what happens when we all work together to make something happen.”
Hassan went on to say tourism is the second largest income in the state, and she told the crowd, “I was lucky enough to enjoy the trails and even got to drive the ATV. It was a blast!”
The Governor also cited the business the North Country will experience in its shops, restaurants, and parks while people travel the largest ATV trail in the Eastern United States.
She also mentioned she would be signing House Bill 383 at the end of the ceremony. This bill will allow anyone 18 years or older to drive an ATV on public highways, and anyone 12 years of age will be able to do so with a licensed driver as long as they have participated in the safety course for youngsters 12 to 18 years old.
The bill was sponsored by Robert Theberge, who represents Coos County in the State House and is leader of the Coos County delegation. In his remarks, he said, “This is what happens when we work together. Coos County members always vote together as a block no matter what our politics. We are not partisan when it comes to working for the people we serve.”
Greetings of congratulations to the group were read by representatives of U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Representative Annie Kuster.
All of them expressed their regret at not being able to attend, but were very impressed by the accomplishment and enterprise of the people in the North Country. N.H. Senator Jeff Woodburn told the crowd, “When the system works, we can all be smart together.”
The ceremony ended with the ribbon cutting and the trails were officially opened. However, 10-year-old Jordan Hudon and her father, Tony Hudon, who came from Henniker the day before the opening said, “We already rode 45 miles of the trails, and I can’t wait for me and my Dad to go back this afternoon.”
As for Harry Brown, his assessment of the opening was, “It was an amazing day for the North Country and will be a terrific economic boost to the area. I was very pleased with the turn out, and everyone had a great time.”
Governor Maggie HAssan
cut the ribbon marking the official opening to 1000-plus miles of
interconnected OHRV and ATV trails throughout the North Country during a ceremony held at
Coleman State Park in Stewartstown last Saturday. Charles Jordan photo.
At Saturday’s dedication
of the Ride The Wilds trail network at
Coleman State Park, N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan enlisted the help of
Rilynn Grace Beaudet, 4, of Tilton in signing HB 383 regarding the
use of OHRVs on public roadways. Charles Jordan photo.