November 20, 2012LANCASTER — The five members of the Nash Stream Forest Citizens Advisory Committee who showed up at its Nov. 13 meeting did not make up a quorum. Not only was chairman John Lanier of Columbia frustrated by the number of no-shows and late resignations but camp owners, several state employees, and ATV Club members from Pittsburg to Gorham were also disappointed.
The Advisory Committee, established in statute, is supposed to have a dozen members.
Trailmaster Harry Brown of the Metallak ATV Club of Northern N. H. showed a PowerPoint presentation detailing the status of ATV connectivity, emphasizing the importance of letting ATVs travel on the recently completed Kelsey Notch snowmobile connector.
This mile-long stretch can only be opened up for bare-ground ATV use with the approval of the DRED commissioner, a post now held by Interim Commissioner Phil Bryce, formerly the head of the Division of Forests and Lands and currently head of the Division of Parks and Recreation.
Brown said that connected ATV trails are the equivalent of a building a new factory in Coös County — an economic driver that could boost the economy of the City of Berlin and surrounding small towns by bring visitors who will get cash registers ringing at campgrounds, motels, hotels, gas stations, restaurants, hardware stores, repair shops and other tourist attractions.
Delaying decision-making will substantially delay marketing the availability of an ATV loop on which motorized recreational vehicle enthusiasts could spend up to a week of adventuresome riding without hauling a trailer or retracing their steps. Several gaps still exist, Brown said, who urged that those interested in the county's economic well-being move swiftly to create complete connectivity from Berlin-Gorham to Errol to Colebrook to the Headwaters property to Stratford to Millsfield.
Likely, however, the state's Forest Management Plan will have to be amended, said state officials on hand, including state forester Brad Simpkins, land administrator Bill Carpenter, also of DRED's Division of Forests and Lands, and regional forester Maggie Machinist. Regional Trails Bureau head Clint Savage pointed out that the new stretch of connector trail in Nash Stream had been designed with good ditching, making it suitable for nearly year-round use.