March 24. 2013 11:04PM

Land exchange to add more acres to Berlin ATV park

Special to the Union Leader

BERLIN - A land exchange will add nearly 100 acres to the land available for off-road vehicle trails in Jericho Mountain State Park.

The first step is a swap of conservation land in Bartlett and White Mountain National Forest land completely surrounded by the Berlin ATV park. The swap is between the Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the U.S. Forest Service.

The society will then sell the Jericho tract to the state. The tract on the northern slope of Bartlett Mountain will become part of the White Mountain National Forest. The appraised value of the 96.6-acre parcel at Jericho was set at $48,300; the 76.5-acre Bartlett tract is valued at $39,000.

The Forest Society will pay the White Mountain Forest the difference in value of the two parcels - $9,300. And the state will pay the society the appraised value for the Jericho parcel.

"It absolutely makes sense for us to acquire it," Chris Gamache, head of the New Hampshire Trails Bureau, said Thursday.

Gamache said formal discussions started in 2009, and that the transfer is expected to be complete by late summer or early fall.

The acreage has a dirt road through it which could not be used as long as it was part of the White Mountain National Forest, he said. There is already a snowmobile corridor through the land.

"This land exchange is the result of consideration by an interdisciplinary team and collaboration with two of our local land management partners, the Forest Society and the state of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED)," Tom Wagner, White Mountain National Forest supervisor, wrote in his March 11 letter of decision for the Bartlett Mountain Land Exchange.

He added: "We're extremely happy to be able to finish this land acquisition."

"The outcome is well worth it," Jack Savage, Forest Society spokesman said, noting the society bought the land in 2009 with the goal of holding it for eventual purchase by the WMNF.