February 12, 2014GORHAM-SHELBURNE — Snowmobiling ruled over the weekend!
Fresh snow, sunny weather, a three-hour visit by Gov. Maggie Hassan that included her riding to the top of Pine Mountain, volunteers from the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association (NHSA) and local clubs, including the Presidential Range Riders (www.presidentialrangeriders.org), a raft of cheerful state Fish and Game officers plus good representation from DRED, including the Trails Bureau, made the 42nd annual Easter Seals Ride-In a great success, drawing generous Camp Sno-Mo supporters from all across the state.
"It's an awesome event," said NHSA executive director Gail Hanson. "Every year it gets better, and we were thrilled to have such good snow this year. We had a really good turnout, and the town of Gorham and the Town & Country Motor Inn laid out the red carpet of hospitality for this weekend, which benefits Easter Seals Camp Sno-Mo."
Three campers — one an alumna who every year commemorates her life-altering experiences there — were here and able to go on the Kids Ride-In, led this year by Gov. Hassan and Trails Bureau chief Chris Gamache.
"Snowmobile registrations are up with trails in good shape all over the state," Hanson said. "I'd think we are up by 2,000 to 3,000 — a healthy percentage above our typical membership."
When asked whether she thought that tensions had relaxed between snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts, Hanson replied, "Yes, most snowmobilers also own ATVs, and almost everyone now is committed to working together. These tourism dollars are very important, especially in Coös and Grafton County.
"Snowmobiling has been an important winter sport since the early 1970s. Although snowmobile registrations go up and down yearly, the sport's economic impact is greater than ever. Snowmobiles are more sophisticated and expensive, and riders are more likely to use them on overnight away-from-home trips. ATVs are where snowmobiling was 30 years ago.
"A recent study done by NHSA shows that the overall impact of snowmobiling on the state's economy comes to over $586 million a year," she said. "There are more than 7,400 miles of groomed and marked trails throughout the state, many of which are interconnected and link towns and businesses. It's a great family sport that easy to learn."
Hanson concluded, "I expect that Chris Gamache will soon set the date for a snowmobile tour, which will still be called 'the Burton tour' in memory of the executive counselor."