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By Robert Janis

New Hampshire OHV Association

The New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association


Volunteer trail work

New Hampshire is known as the Granite State. No wonder then that the state association, the New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association (NHOHVA), is providing rock solid support for ATVers and trail bikers statewide.

Founded in July, 2001 and based in Concord, New Hampshire, the NHOHVA is focused on the preservation of family-based motorized trail recreation through safety and environmental education. The group is built upon the local ATV/trail bike clubs. A representative of each of the local member clubs is seated on the Board of Directors.

There are nine member clubs affiliated with the NHOHVA. They are: the Ammonoosuc Valley ATV Club, Bath, New Hampshire; Grafton County ATV Club, Canaan, New Hampshire; Merrimack Valley Trail Riders, Milford, New Hampshire; Mt. Mooseilauke ATV Club, Warren, New Hampshire; New Durham Valley ATV Club, New Durham, New Hampshire; New Hampshire ATV Club, Auburn, New Hampshire; Sullivan County ATV Club, Claremont, New Hampshire; Valley Trail Association -- ATV Club, West Ossippe, New Hampshire; and White Mountain ATV Club, Lincoln, New Hampshire. Members of these clubs are also automatically members of the NHOHVA.

In addition, the NHOVHA promotes local non-member ATV clubs on its website: http://www.nhohva.org. These clubs include: Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, Berlin, New Hampshire; Black Water ATV Association, Boscawen, New Hampshire; Contoocook Valley ATV Club, Henniker, New Hampshire; Great North Woods Trail Riders, Pittsburg, New Hampshire; Little Monadnock Family Trails, Troy, New Hampshire; Littleton Off-Road Riders, Littleton, New Hampshire; Millsfield ATV Club, Errol, New Hampshire; North Country ATV Club, N. Stratford, New Hampshire; Seacoast Trail Riders, Dover, New Hampshire; Tri-County OHRV Club, Hillsboro, New Hampshire; Trail Brook OHRVA Club, Lyndeborough, New Hampshire; Umbagog ATV Club, Errol, New Hampshire; and Weare ATV Club, Weare, New Hampshire.

John Mercier is the current president of the NHOHVA. Other officers of the association are Larry Anderson, vice president; Dianne Raymond, secretary; and Brenda Goodbout, treasurer. The infrastructure of the association includes a Legislation Committee (Jim Bird, chairman), a Fundraising and Events Committee (John Mercier, chairman), a Membership Committee (Brenda Goodbout, chairwoman), a Public Relations Committee (Buddy Dionne, chairman), a Website Committee, a Safety and Education Committee (Chris Oliverio, chairman) and a Trail Patrol Committee (Tom Johnson, chairman).

As Mercier tells it, “I really don’t have much of a background in ATVs. I’m an environmentalist. I bought my ATV after reading an article in Mother Earth News suggesting it as a low-cost alternative to a tractor for small homesteaders. I went to an ATV Pull that a local club had to test my machine choice and ended up recruited. I assumed duties first as a local club events coordinator, then at the state level as vice president. My movement up to president at each the local and state level was purely a progression. I don’t think 30 people have ever witnessed me on an ATV.”

Mercier pointed out that the group is a mixture of ATV and trail bike enthusiasts and supporters. “Our focus is the recreational aspect of the community,” said Mercier. “There are many competitive leagues in the region to handle other interests. One of these leagues, Rock Maple Racing of the WPSA, has chosen to seek an affiliation with us. Because of their very strong support of “racing on the track, not the trails” they were able to get the support of our Board of Directors.

“On the national level, we work closely with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council because we are very much focused on safety and environmental education,” continued Mercier. We also realize that lobbying the state legislature on ATV and OHM issues is an extension of the educational function so we have hired Curtis Barry of the DuPont Group, as our lobbyist.”

NHOHVA trains volunteers for trail patrol from the  Androscoggin Valley ATV Club
NHOHVA trains volunteers for trail patrol from the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club

There are three types of memberships--the Enthusiasts Membership, the Business Membership, and the Club Membership.

Anyone who rides an ATV or trail bike in New Hampshire can join as an enthusiast’s member. Yearly dues are $10 per member.

Businesses that are involved in the off-highway recreational vehicle community are encouraged to join the association via business membership. Dealerships, trailside gas stations, restaurants, and lodgings are encouraged to join in this category.

Members of local clubs throughout New Hampshire can be a part of the NHOHVA as a club member. There are two ways a member of a local club can sign up as a member of the state association--pay a yearly fee based on the size of the club or receive free club membership by automatically signing up all club members to the NHOHVA at the discount rate of $5 per family.

As previously stated, the NHOHVA’s main focus is the recreational aspects of ATVing. So the preservation of trails for riding is a major priority. With that in mind, one of the most important elements of the association is the Trail Patrol Program. The purpose of the program is to assure proper use of the trails. Members of the Trail Patrol Program are present on the trails and assist in emergency situations and educate riders on the laws and rules pertaining to the trails. Special outreach programs and training seminars are held by members of the Trail Patrol and they also produce and distribute educational pamphlets. It is the members of the local clubs who administer the program. In order to assure that the trails are used safely, trail patrollers are permitted to note the registration number, vehicle description and description of any operator of an ATV or other off-road vehicle that may not be using the trail properly and pass the information on to law enforcement agencies.

Local clubs are encouraged to establish their own Trail Patrol Program and each patroller is required to fill out a form each time they patrol noting what they have observed. The forms are given to the local club’s trail patrol coordinator, and copies are sent to the appropriate state government agency and to the New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association.

The program also includes a Sound Awareness Campaign, a pilot program designed to alert riders to focus on the sound emission of their machines. A sound reading is taken of riders’ ATVs as they ride the trails, and results are compared to the decibel standards for the State of New Hampshire. “This program is the first of its kind,” commented Tom Johnson, the Trail Patrol Coordinator for the New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association. “We are taking the first step in lowering the sound levels created by OHRVs. We hope that once a rider is aware that his machine is above the legal limit, he will take steps to rectify the situation.”

To promote safety the NHOHVA is involved in safety education classes. For example, the association is working with the State’s Fish and Game Department on seminars describing how to instruct OHRV safety classes. The association holds many of these seminars in conjunction with local clubs. In addition, the NHOHVA is currently developing a safety program with the state’s 4-H Clubs. Representatives of the association are traveling throughout the state to promote safety in the NHOHVA Safety Awareness Trailer. The association also has Adventure Trails, a program that uses posters to spread various safety messages throughout the state. The messages are in the form of a quiz that kids participate in to earn prizes.

Grass Drags 2006
Grass Drags

Of course, the NHOHVA has a website: http://www.nhohva.org. The site offers news concerning ATVers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts, information about pending legislation and events; and a section called “where to ride” to provide information about the trails ATVers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts can ride including the Jericho Mountain State Park and trails that cross state and privately owned land that are all created, maintained, and administered by the local clubs. Moreover, links are provided so that visitors to the site can get additional information on Berlin Park from the Jericho Lake ATV Park, the New Hampshire Trails Bureau, and local clubs by simply clicking the mouse of their computer.

A Links page allows visitors to access information directly from the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association, Jericho Lake ATV Park forum, ATV Safety Institute, Tread Lightly, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Insurance & Service Group, ATV Maine (Maine’s state ATV association), the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) the national ATV association, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, New Hampshire Fish & Game, the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails, Blue Ribbon Coalition, Rock Maple Racing, Berlin Chamber of Commerce, and 6 Hours of ATV America.

Another part of the site has links to the New Hampshire OHRV Laws.

Finally, interested visitors to the site can download reports on The Impact of Spending by ATV/Trail bike Travel Parties on New Hampshire’s Economy during July 2002 to June 2003 as well as a copy of “A Plan for Developing New Hampshire’s Statewide Trail System for ATVs and Trail Bikes 2004-2008.” This plan could be used as a blueprint by other states interested in creating and/or expanding their off-road trail system.

Anyone interested in ATV riding, no matter in which state you reside, should visit the site. Again, the website address is: http://www.nhohva.org.

(NOTE: DIRECTOR OF THE NHOHVA SAID IT WAS ALL RIGHT TO SELECT PHOTOS FROM THE GROUP'S WEBSITE)


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