By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The future development of the state’s Off-Highway Road Vehicle trail system and its use of public roads are likely headed to a study commission.
On Thursday, the House voted on a voice vote to kill House Bill 1427, replacing it with an OHRV study commission which passed the House earlier.
House Bill 1427 was one of seven OHRV bills heard on Jan. 29 which brought out supporters and opponents from across the state. It was intended to remove the authorization for OHRV use on certain sections of state highways authorized by legislation.
Instead, it was recommended that a legislative study committee on “non-traditional” motor vehicles be formed with recommendations for future legislation.
If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, under HB 1182, the due date for that report would be Nov. 1.
State Rep. Larry Gagne, R-Manchester, on behalf of the majority of the Transportation Committee wrote that the issues related to road use by such nontraditional vehicles would be better addressed in House Bill 1182, which would establish a commission.
A number of other bills have been killed on the OHRV issue.
Twenty years ago, there were virtually no trails or riders of such vehicles in the state. Such vehicles were mostly used on farms for agricultural purposes.
But in that period of time a new form of motorized recreation has emerged primarily on logging and private property, with permission given for such use.
But linking those trails to where people park their vehicles and trailers, get gas, food, and lodging, has become a growing issue and controversial in some areas as the use of public roads for OHRV has expanded and requested on a local basis, in some cases without the knowledge of the public and abutting property owners.
Noise, dust, and other conflict issues have emerged.
While much of the focus has been in the North Country where the largest system of trails exists in the northeast United States, other areas of the state are seeing OHRV growth, including the Mink Hills near Hillsborough and Warner.
If the Senate passes the bill, it would go to Gov. Chris Sununu for his signature.