To the editor:
ATVs don’t have a right to the rail trail in Gorham. In fact, per New Hampshire state law, they are specifically not allowed there.
Residents have been asking for ATV traffic to be removed from their neighborhood since the rail trail was opened without abutter notification in 2011.
The House Resource Recreation and Development committee heard evidence from all sides and overwhelmingly concluded that the trail should be moved, and there is a workable alternative route presented at a public hearing in Gorham last month.
If ATV advocates had been looking for a solution, they could have worked with legislators to craft one that would have allowed time to make the transition to a new trailhead.
Instead they made sure the bill to close the rail trail was tabled without discussion, and got the assurance of a governor’s veto. Because what the ATV community really wants is access everywhere.
They are currently trying to open more trails without fixing any of the problems with the current trails: They want the river waterfront in Littleton. They want to ride in the National Forest in the Kilkenny and in Shelburne. They want more trails to ride through Nash Stream. They want to ride all roads in New Hampshire with a 45 mph or less speed limit. They ride to the summit of Mt. Forist and out to the Cascade Reservoir and up around Mt. Jasper even though it is illegal to do so.
ATVers have a place in the north country, and with our 1,000-mile network of trails, they will continue to come from far and wide (and near). But we don’t have to give them everything they ask for.
Livable neighborhoods and a welcoming atmosphere for tourists and nonmotorized users should also be a priority.
House Bill 1182, passed by the House and waiting on action by the Senate establishes a commission to study issues related to road use by ATVs.
Let your legislators know if you want this to be more than just a cover to open more and more terrain and public roads to ATVs.
Or they may be coming to a quiet area near you!