A guest editorial reprinted from the News and Sentinel of Colebrook.
Whether Rep. Wayne Moynihan’s legislative measures make it past committee or gain approval by the General Court remains to be seen, but they’ve already prompted the North Country Chamber of Commerce to give members a heads-up about their potential impact on our region, and no doubt have ATV enthusiasts up in arms.
The question of OHRV traffic on town roads has become a terribly polarized one.
While proponents point to the economic necessity of a regional trail system, residents of once-quiet backroads say they are now besieged by constant noise and dust in the summer and fall.
It is a thorny issue, and Harry Brown (in a News and Sentinel op ed) offered a good compromise, proposing to limit road travel to key connectors between trail systems.
There’s no question that ATV riders bring a huge economic boost to the North Country.
Anyone who believes the only beneficiaries are motels, restaurants and gas stations, by the way, is clearly incapable of looking logically at the big picture.
Every gallon poured into the pond floats all boats a little higher, as every dollar brought into the area travels round and round to benefit just about everyone at some point.
But we can also certainly sympathize with people who feel their quality of life and general well-being have been shattered by the buzz of ATVs right outside their homes, on roads they chose to live on for their quiet, out-of-the-way situations.
Some of these folks have worked and saved all their adult lives to retire in a peaceful setting, only to have that peace overcome by engine noise and dust. It’s a sad tale that we’ve heard more than once.
How to find a balance between these two sides? There are some who would prefer to see ATV riding abolished altogether, which is clearly unreasonable, and those who would love it if ATVs could travel absolutely anywhere, which is equally untenable.
We’re more than a little concerned that representatives of the entire state will get to weigh in on this issue — which affects the North County more than any other area — thanks to Rep. Moynihan’s introduction of House Bill 498-FN proposing to prohibit OHRVs on all town-maintained roads.
Study the question? Absolutely.
But to throw it out there for the state legislature to decide goes too far, and we hope that particular measure fails.
We’d much prefer a compromise reached at the local level, among local people.
Representatives from Hillsborough and Rockingham counties shouldn’t be deciding an issue between neighbors here in the north.