View Full Version : Ride the Wilds Show on NHPTV

07-12-2015, 02:22 PM
Wilhem Lang show did a half hour "commercial" on the Ride the Wilds ATV network in Northern NH this past week. The traffic on this network is growing rapidly and the volume of visitors coming up from down south is very high on weekends. The network is north of RT 2 with a couple of feeder trails from Gorham and Lancaster with a big user base at the ATV park in Jericho. There probably isn't a lot of interaction between hikers headed to standard peaks but I expect there are occasional encounter for those heading to summits on the more obscure lists. The network mostly sticks to logging roads that were in place previously. One positive for hikers is that the ATV traffic is supporting local tourist businesses so finding an open store or restaurant north of RT 2 is somewhat more likely than previously. Even Les Otten has acknowledged this new industry and I expect ATVs will be integrated in the Balsams resort in some unobtrusive manner. Luckily for the hiking public ATVs are not currently permitted on National Forest lands as well as the two wildlife refuges in the region. There has been some interaction between these agencies that have come down to land swaps of land that is of value for ATV use in exchange for other properties better for the federal entities, these transactions have been small with few dissenters.

There are some down sides to the new industry. There are frequent severe accidents and occasional fatalities generally every weekend usually in remote spots. The ATVs that are being bought for trail use are quite powerful and some are getting close to the length of a small car (but limited on track width). There are several rental businesses and the training given is basic at best, thus a portion of the people on the trails are new and don't realize the handling limitations of the ATVs. There is also a very strong contingent of locals that are calling the shots in a lot of the small towns on trail and road access. Individual landowners, mostly non residents who bought property now have traffic running down their formerly unused roads leading to some friction. A big "cherry" that the group is trying to obtain access to is the former Boston and Maine route that parallels RT 2 from Gorham to Whitefield. It is open in the winter to snowmachine traffic and is open to ATV traffic from the siding in Gorham to Berlin but the locals in Randolph have so far kept ATVs out of town. Given that the Silvio Conte wildlife refuge has integrated the old railbeds into their trail network, I expect some resistance on the Whitefield end.

The recent revelation that the Ride the Wilds management is negotiating a big initial and ongoing payout from Northern Pass which is regarded as many as a payoff from NP for the appearance of local support is also stirring up some discontent. The best article to date on this dust up was published last Friday (July 10th) in the Colebrook Chronicle http://colebrookchronicle.weebly.com/ Its pretty attractive to what to date has been a volunteer run organization. I wouldn't be surprised that Ride the Wilds doesn't factor in when JR Dillon has harvested the last tree in Success and puts it up for sale which is expected within the next year or so.

It will be interesting to see how this industry works out. Its a net positive in some ways as it another means of supporting a tourism based economy in the region that some folks regard as a replacement for industrial forestry. I expect on the other hand for outdoors purists, its a bit too "redneck" for their tastes.