No free weekend for visiting snowmobilers in New Hampshire
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire can no longer promote an annual weekend for snowmobilers registered in Maine and Vermont to ride its trails for free.
For seven years, during the last weekend of January, snowmobilers registered in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont have been allowed on trails in all three states without paying additional registration.
Maine and Vermont have changed their regulations to allow a free weekend for snowmobilers registered in any state, with the ability to change the date. This year, both are scheduled for Feb. 1-3.
New Hampshire’s law requires a reciprocal agreement with Maine and Vermont to ride for free on an agreed upon date.
Bob Meyers, of the Maine Snowmobile Association, said it’s a case of New Hampshire just not keeping up with the times.
“New Hampshire is the outlier where they require that the other states have to offer them the same accommodation at the same time,” he said.
Meyers said Maine felt the three-state agreement was tying it down, and that not a lot of snowmobilers from Maine were going into New Hampshire during the designated weekend.
“The thing has evolved,” Meyers said.
Capt. Dave Walsh, of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, who coordinates snowmobile and off-highway recreational vehicle enforcement, said state officials and the snowmobile association didn’t know about the other states’ changes until recently. New Hampshire’s legislature would have to make a similar change if it wants a free weekend for snowmobilers from other states, he said.
“Because we’re sandwiched between Vermont and Maine, our businesses really pushed for this about a decade ago,” Walsh said. “The riders could come into New Hampshire, they could do a day trip to Vermont, or a day trip to Maine. Everybody would pass through New Hampshire, so New Hampshire received the benefit.”
Rick Nadig, manager of the Black Bear Tavern in Colebrook, said the reciprocal weekend has always been one of his busiest during the snowmobile season.
“You take that out of the equation, it’s going to hurt business, myself and other businesses in the northern tier,” he said.
Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this story.