Why is State Curtailing ATV Use and Tourism?
I am a New Hampshire resident and I am extremely troubled about several measures before the State Legislature that would essentially kill Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRV) (i.e., ATVs, UTVs) use and the associated tourism it brings to NH. Just as bad is the position the State has taken to feel they know better than each Town and seek to take away the authority and right of each Town to decide how they chose to share their maintained roads (Class V) with OHRVs. House Bill (HB) 498, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Moynihan, seeks to take away a Town’s ability to choose when, where and how OHRVs may utilize Town roads. Rep. Moynihan also is sponsoring HB 683 which will shut down OHRV riding in the state abutting certain highways and rail trails. Rep. James Spillane is sponsoring HB 699 which would repeal the discounts for OHRV and snowmobile registrations that help support the clubs which maintain the trials. Rep. Moynihan is also sponsoring HB 592 which seeks to restrict the age of riders operating on roads to only those with driver’s license. This means adults must leave their riding children behind when they seek to cross a road or break the law. The law today already requires adults to have a driver’s license to operate on a roadway so the only clear intent here is to prevent underage riders from riding.
What is driving this push to end OHRV riding and tourism in our State? OHRV families will be forced to go to other states for OHRV trips and that means there goes all those dollars they would have spent in NH (lodging, food, restaurants, supplies, shopping). For the small towns up north, this will have a crippling economic impact.
How does the State legislature plan to help offset this economic crisis they will cause? How will towns replace that lost income and the obvious closure of businesses that thrive on tourism in the state? With the State seeking to take away a Town’s right to control their roads, what is the next thing the State seeks to take away from a Town’s control?
The proposed changes to the law are easy to overlook, but the impact on the towns and residents state-wide will be significant. We all need to be mindful when we allow rights to be taken away from us and controlled by others.