Milford-based group removes truckloads of trash from forest

Courtesy photos The Milford-based Offroad Misfits give back to the community in an attempt to improve the reputation of Jeep and OHRV enthusiasts. In January and February, the group held fundraisers for a 6-year-old girl named Sophia, who has brain stem cancer.

MILFORD – Driving wheeled vehicles on unpaved roads or over forest terrain isn’t a sport usually connected with environmental awareness – and the Offroad Misfits want to change that perception.

During Earth Day weekend, Elicia Vallier and more than a dozen members of the new club she started spent 18 hours near the Mile Slip Town Forest clearing out and hauling away trash, including 32 tires, 400 pounds of scrap metal and 700 pounds of other trash. Four or five trucks hauled the trash to the end of the road, and the Department of Public Works picked it up, said Vallier, who lives on Mile Slip Road.

The road leads to the Mile Slip Town Forest. She and other club members would love to see the 450 acres reopened to vehicles.

When the land was purchased by the town 12 years ago, vehicles were allowed, but two years later, the Conservation Commission made it off-limits after ATVs caused damage and neighbors in the area complained about noise and trespassing.

The decision was made after no riders from Milford showed up for a free training session for patrol certification by the state ATV club. The town promised it wouldn’t open Mile Slip again until a local club provided oversight.

Vallier started the club last December as a way to improve the sport’s reputation and so that the town might reconsider its decision. There is also a possibility of opening an off-road park in Lyndeborough, where a 1,000-acre parcel might be available.

But keeping the Mile Slip area clean is the immediate goal. Recently, she and other club members went back to the areas they had cleaned up Earth Day weekend and found a television, two mattresses, lock boxes and a microwave oven.

“We were fit to be tied,” said Vallier, 21, who graduated from Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday with a degree in business administration.

She and her friends ride on the Class 6 road and on private land with the owner’s permission, and sometimes people who live on Mile Slip complain.

“We aren’t the people who leave patio sets” and other discarded items, she tells them.

About a year ago, several members of the New England Mud Hawgs went to a Conservation Commission meeting and said there were many members who wanted to help get the trails open again.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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