jhwentworth

How to keep snowmobiling alive in NH

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9 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

I think the decline in snowmobile registrations is due to the Polaris/Bombardier Marketing Study done in 1995, and released to the public at the ISC in 1998.

 

As for speed and off-trail riding... I think you fail repeatedly to recognize that landowners determine much of that. So a bigger issue would be the loss of land access. The concessions would need to be by landowners open to the concept. Those landowners are the powers. Some will be against, some will be open... or at least I think some will be open... since other formats of usage that have been told for a very long time that they would not get landowner support, when they asked landowners found they could.

The Used Sled industry is always rocking. There are thousands of sleds out there for dirt cheap and they’re being bought up constantly. Young people are willing to spend a whole pay check or two whole paychecks to ride. 

With the addition of easy access to sales with craigslist and Facebook. Hundreds, if not more, of sleds are sold privately on Facebook every season. Way more than craigslist or uncle Henry’s!

I promise you John- I’m not disregarding the land owners in any way. I’m merely saying if these are issues that are contributing to the rapid decline of registrations..... 

Are all parties in charge willing to come to the table, look at and discuss, for instance, speeding laws and off trail riding? ( for land owners I would think more so off trail on their property would be a larger talking point)

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Edited by gunmaker

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15 hours ago, John Mercier said:

 

I think the decline in snowmobile registrations is due to the Polaris/Bombardier Marketing Study done in 1995, and released to the public at the ISC in 1998.

They determined that discretionary income was not growing in traditional snowmobile regions and would over the next twenty years result in declines. They further determined that much of what was being considered as discretionary income was in actuality income that was being diverted from other long term goals... retirement being the one delivered at that time. The Study felt that going forward... the aging snowmobile community... would hit the pre-retirement age and shake out. 

 

I'd like to look at that study, is it available on the Internet?

Discretionary income figures tend to be "mushy"because the definition of the term is not clear. Is eating restaurant food discretionary? Is a college education discretionary? What kind of healthcare is discretionary?

That said, if you want to swim in some numbers: https://www.bls.gov/cex/#products

The national average spending for entertainment in 1995 was 5% of after tax income, and was 5.3% in 2017. Households in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania top the country in per capita discretionary income ($9,699). Ranking next are households in New England. In 2017, New Hampshire ranked #7 in the country in median household income, with Connecticut at #6 and Massachusetts at #4. Higher income people control most of the discretionary income, and they aren't spending it on snowmobiling.

Both snowmobiles and wheeled OHRVs are expensive toys that appeal to similar demographics, but are  OHRV registration numbers down? 

The long time record of 27532 wheeled OHRV registrations set in FY2007 was blown away in FY2016 with 30,618 registrations. In FY2016 there were 22,880 snowmobile registrations due to a no-snow winter. In FY2017, with snow on the ground,  snowmobiles registrations bounced back to 47,255 while wheeled OHRV's went up to 33,479. Wheeled OHRV's attract the same audience as sleds, but have had greater success, probably because there's always dirt just like boating always has water. Sledding in NH is mostly confined to club trails, and we've accumulated close to 7,000 miles of them from Hinsdale to Pittsburg. Trail maintenance, grooming, and construction is expensive. Fewer registrations and the same costly trail system, how does that compute?

BTW: What does the term "off trail riding" mean?  Some people see it as ungroomed trails and others have a more "back country" vision where riders go anywhere they want. At Jericho, are OHRV riders required to stay on a trail, or can they go anywhere? 

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I wheeled my Jeep at Jericho several times, we were required to stay on designated trails specifically cut for full sized rigs only

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On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 6:38 PM, WideOpenOrNothin said:

I took SmallEngines comment to you as;

the manufacturers bear responsibility for disregarding for rules of the sport they promote, they did so by. Instead of educational/proper promotion. They promoted mountain sleds like everywhere in America is the Mid West. 

As stewarts of the sport they took advantage of a money maker instead of what’s good in the long term 

That's exactly what I said. If you're not TAUGHT respect, only that the snowy landscape is your canvas like the advertisement, then that's what you get.

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6 hours ago, jhwentworth said:

I'd like to look at that study, is it available on the Internet?

Discretionary income figures tend to be "mushy"because the definition of the term is not clear. Is eating restaurant food discretionary? Is a college education discretionary? What kind of healthcare is discretionary?

That said, if you want to swim in some numbers: https://www.bls.gov/cex/#products

The national average spending for entertainment in 1995 was 5% of after tax income, and was 5.3% in 2017. Households in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania top the country in per capita discretionary income ($9,699). Ranking next are households in New England. In 2017, New Hampshire ranked #7 in the country in median household income, with Connecticut at #6 and Massachusetts at #4. Higher income people control most of the discretionary income, and they aren't spending it on snowmobiling.

Both snowmobiles and wheeled OHRVs are expensive toys that appeal to similar demographics, but are  OHRV registration numbers down? 

The long time record of 27532 wheeled OHRV registrations set in FY2007 was blown away in FY2016 with 30,618 registrations. In FY2016 there were 22,880 snowmobile registrations due to a no-snow winter. In FY2017, with snow on the ground,  snowmobiles registrations bounced back to 47,255 while wheeled OHRV's went up to 33,479. Wheeled OHRV's attract the same audience as sleds, but have had greater success, probably because there's always dirt just like boating always has water. Sledding in NH is mostly confined to club trails, and we've accumulated close to 7,000 miles of them from Hinsdale to Pittsburg. Trail maintenance, grooming, and construction is expensive. Fewer registrations and the same costly trail system, how does that compute?

BTW: What does the term "off trail riding" mean?  Some people see it as ungroomed trails and others have a more "back country" vision where riders go anywhere they want. At Jericho, are OHRV riders required to stay on a trail, or can they go anywhere? 

I couldn't find it. But back in those days... dial-up was considered advanced. It may exist in a Polaris archive.

We actually determine discretionary income based on standard of whether you are meeting current and future needs. The concept is that if you are not, then you are using income in a discretionary manner that should be going elsewhere. 

For a 21 yr old, an CFP would want to see 5% of gross annual income going to emergency fund savings, and another 15% minus any employer input toward retirement savings. Down payment for a home/etc would be above and beyond that. Around 30, is when we can get some real data and just plug it into a FiSt score. At that point, it corrects for age and household income pretty accurately, and it can be determined whether more income is being redirected. 

The increase in OHRV numbers was the prediction of the Polaris/Bombardier Study. They determined that when discretionary income became ''tight'' that shifts in recreational expenditure would occur to provide ''the most bang for the buck''. When asked about the spending numbers... they pointed out that household with high incomes had to have greater retirement savings to maintain that standard of living once employment ended... this is why the FiSt score attempts to base its numbers on annual household income.

At Jericho, everyone is required to ''stay on the trail'' just like other government owned property... some of the trails are simply  not groomed. But those trails are designed to be bi-direction, so are wider than a ''back country experience'' would provide. 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 8:25 PM, gunmaker said:

It doesn't matter what the sled manufacturers advertise and push, it still comes down to respect. If you don't RESPECT the wants of others, land owners, this will continue to happen. Maybe when people like this are caught, they need to be charged with trespassing not just "off trail" riding. I don't know.

Wish it was that easy...Obviously, you (like me) haven't been a 20 something with a 800+cc mountain sled and a ton of fun-looking terrain in a while. Respect is taught, and it it ain't taught, it ain't learned! I think the idea of a MANDATORY OHRV course, where the off trail rules are taught, will help more than any other idea out there right now.

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6 hours ago, classicdmax said:

I wheeled my Jeep at Jericho several times, we were required to stay on designated trails specifically cut for full sized rigs only

I don't remember the Master Plan placing a restriction on those trails being used by other groups.

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2 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

We actually determine discretionary income based on standard of whether you are meeting current and future needs. The concept is that if you are not, then you are using income in a discretionary manner that should be going elsewhere. 

I used discretionary income to mean "the amount of an individual's income that is left for spending, investing or saving after paying taxes and paying for personal necessities, such as food, shelter and clothing. Discretionary income includes money spent on luxury items, vacations, and nonessential goods and services."  

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2 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

I don't remember the Master Plan placing a restriction on those trails being used by other groups.

It is that way indeed...in fact we were asked that once we enter the trail from the parking area that we place the chain back across entrance as to deter anyone else from entering who is either not yet registered to ride, and/or a full sized vehicle. The placing of chain is almost moot for the trail eventually intersects atv trail twice where there is no signage or chains to block entry 

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49 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

We actually determine discretionary income based on standard of whether you are meeting current and future needs. The concept is that if you are not, then you are using income in a discretionary manner that should be going elsewhere. 

How many teenagers and people in early 20’s had sleds when you were in your 30’s

Have any of you seen the sled market on Facebook? There are always around 5 pages for NH alone that sell snowmobiles on Facebook.

Teenagers and young adults don’t use craigslist or uncle Henry’s. They use the social media and the market is HUGE. 

im telling you there’s so many sleds out there, no one cares about gross income. They will live like crap and save for a month to buy a sled for couple thousand $. 

THERES NO SUCH THING AS DISCRETIONARY INCOME FOR YOUNGER PEOPLE. 

They work hard and spend all their money on enjoying themselves. Then around 30 they finally get it together have kids and become great members of society. 

Snowmobiling moving forward are these people. 

Not John or snorander, or smallengines. 

Edited by WideOpenOrNothin

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51 minutes ago, jhwentworth said:

I used discretionary income to mean "the amount of an individual's income that is left for spending, investing or saving after paying taxes and paying for personal necessities, such as food, shelter and clothing. Discretionary income includes money spent on luxury items, vacations, and nonessential goods and services."  

We've found that as the demographics age... what should have gone to financial stability was used as discretionary income. That means that at some point, the individual must ''down size'' their lifestyle. 

 

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51 minutes ago, classicdmax said:

It is that way indeed...in fact we were asked that once we enter the trail from the parking area that we place the chain back across entrance as to deter anyone else from entering who is either not yet registered to ride, and/or a full sized vehicle. The placing of chain is almost moot for the trail eventually intersects atv trail twice where there is no signage or chains to block entry 

The chain I believe was the presented to keep full size vehicles that did not have an OHRV registration from using the trail. The original concept was to staff the area... but the Master Plan was flawed in its financial conception and had to be changed on the fly.

 

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12 minutes ago, WideOpenOrNothin said:

How many teenagers and people in early 20’s had sleds when you were in your 30’s

Have any of you seen the sled market on Facebook? There are always around 5 pages for NH alone that sell snowmobiles on Facebook.

Teenagers and young adults don’t use craigslist or uncle Henry’s. They use the social media and the market is HUGE. 

im telling you there’s so many sleds out there, no one cares about gross income. They will live like crap and save for a month to buy a sled for couple thousand $. 

THERES NO SUCH THING AS DISCRETIONARY INCOME FOR YOUNGER PEOPLE. 

They work hard and spend all their money on enjoying themselves. Then around 30 they finally get it together have kids and become great members of society. 

Snowmobiling moving forward are these people. 

Not John or snorander, or smallengines. 

Then you are not paying attention to what is being stated. I had a lot of people in their early 20s on sleds... but they are now suffering the result of financial planning. It is very sad to find a 50-60 year old with retirement savings that will not suffice their retirement... to watch them sell the things they loved... and know that even after it is all gone, there will not be enough.

The numbers in the first post are nationwide. US registrations... not new or used sled sales... have fallen approximately 450,000. Canadian registrations... not new or used sled sales, but actual users... have fallen approximately 165,000. The average age of snowmobile owners has gone up 2 years... even with all those inexpensive used sled available to the younger generation. And the amount spend snowmobiling per capita has gone down from an estimated $4000 annually to $2000 annually. 

Sales... new or used... is not the issue. Registrations falling, registrants being older, and what each registrant is spending annually... those are the issues.

Landowners that can no longer afford to hold large parcels... they need the money for retirement... that is an issue.

How did that happen? When they were young they didn't care about gross income. Now they are old... they are selling things to live off what income they can muster.

Since the median according to the stats is 45 years old... it probably weighs on them more than it does a 20 year old.

Polaris and Bombardier realized in their study that the days of the garage full of toys would result in the days of focus on one toy. What will that ''toy'' be in the end? I think it will vary... but it means the community of support will be lower.

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Per the Maine Snowmobile Association's website:

Off Trail Riding
It seems every year new issues rise to the top, and for the past several years the growth of off-trail riding has been hovering near the top of the list. This fall the MSA organized a discussion between landowners, outfitters and lodges to see if some agreement could be reached on how to get a handle on it. The primary concerns are safety, followed closely by property damage, particularly tree plantations, and what seems to be a sense of entitlement on the part of some riders.
Off-trail riding has been an ongoing problem in southern and central Maine, with riders veering off marked trails on agricultural lands. These problems have been relatively easy to solve through a combination of signage and enforcement. The more recent issues are the result of the significant growth in sales of mountain sleds. Those sleds are becoming a good piece of the snowmobile market, and many riders mistakenly believe that their use in Maine is the equivalent of off trail opportunities in the western states.
By tradition, most of Maine's forestlands are open to public use for a wide range of activities, including snowmobiling, with one important caveat: as long as those uses don't disrupt or damage their operations or place a burden to the landowners. They are, after all, in business to manage those lands to make a profit for their owners and investors. The snowmobile trail system is based on that understanding, which is why it isn't unusual to see trails rerouted or occasionally closed during the course of a season to accommodate logging operations or other activities that may be taking place on the land.
Landowners spend a lot of money every year investing in their property and those investments may or may not show up under the snow. For example, hundreds of acres are replanted every year, and it is not the responsibility of the landowners to expend the time or money needed to educate off-trail riders as to where that is taking place.
Additional issues are safety and liability on roads that may or not be plowed, have bridges out, gates or other hazards. Again, it is not the responsibility of landowners to keep off-trail riders informed of what is happening on their property.
One of the outcomes of the meeting last fall was a general agreement that everyone is reluctant to pursue legislation to regulate this activity, at least for the time being. It is hoped that better education and more awareness of the issues will be enough to keep the activity under control. In the meantime, here is what riders can do to help keep this land open for all riders:
Stay off all plowed roads. This is illegal, and presents a serious safety hazard. Those roads represent a significant investment and are intended solely for transporting wood and equipment. These roads may be in use 24/7 and are no place for sleds, private vehicles and trailers.
The same goes for log yards. They may be empty when you arrive, but they are never intended to be parking lots for pickup trucks and trailers, they are for off-loading wood headed to the marketplace.
Snow covers everything and that includes newly planted seedings or any number of obstacles or hazards. If you're unsure, check locally or just don't go. Keep in mind that calling the landowner isn't an option. Their employees are there to keep their operations moving, not to provide sledding updates to wannabee off-trail riders. Check with locals, or better yet Hire a guide. This is the first suggestion when people call the MSA office about off-trail riding. Guides are generally well connected to the forest landowners, know local conditions and can certainly help provide a high quality off-trail experience. There are also several lodges and outfitters in northern Maine that specialize in off-trail excursions.
Hopefully this season will show that the education efforts will help reduce problems off trail that could affect snowmobiling across the state.

 

Pretty self explanatory! Obviously the sport has taken the State by storm, and no one knows what to do about it.

 

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What stood out to be is the attempt to better educate riders as to the operations of Maine’s open space.

But knowwhere did it say that there is NO offtrail riding. It seems MSA fields a lot of phone activity concerning this issue, and there are guides and outfitter establishments that promote this type of riding. A model that maybe nhsa should look at a bit more closely 

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2 hours ago, classicdmax said:

What stood out to be is the attempt to better educate riders as to the operations of Maine’s open space.

But knowwhere did it say that there is NO offtrail riding. It seems MSA fields a lot of phone activity concerning this issue, and there are guides and outfitter establishments that promote this type of riding. A model that maybe nhsa should look at a bit more closely 

If my memory is serving me correctly there are some over 4000 LANDOWNERS that make up the NH 7000 mile system. Based on the "fragmentation of the land area of NH coupled to the distance and areas desired (for off trail) you can be assured  NH starts with limitations!  One other factor is that Maine  is 33,000 square miles Coos County is just under 1800  with the whole State of NH covering just Under 9000 miles, food for thought!

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2 hours ago, rivercat said:

If my memory is serving me correctly there are some over 4000 LANDOWNERS that make up the NH 7000 mile system. Based on the "fragmentation of the land area of NH coupled to the distance and areas desired (for off trail) you can be assured  NH starts with limitations!  One other factor is that Maine  is 33,000 square miles Coos County is just under 1800  with the whole State of NH covering just Under 9000 miles, food for thought!

This report is from 8 years back, but still useful. It was put out by NH Division of Forest and Lands.

https://www.nhdfl.org/DRED/media/Documents/NH-Statewide-Assessment-2010-update.pdf

Industrial forest ownerships– i.e. those ownerships connected to forest products manufacturing

TIMO- Timberland Investment Management Organizations.

TIMOs use investor funds to purchase these forestland assets and manage the lands for a period of time, typically 7-10 years, before re-selling the lands.The return on the investment is chiefly made through appreciated land values, timber management, selling of high value development parcels and sometimes conservation-related transactions (such as sale of a conservation easement)

New Hampshire’s portion of the TIMO trend is significant. No large industrial timberland remains in the state. The largest remaining industrial ownerships — the Connecticut Lakes 170,000 ownership formerly owned by International Paper and Champion International previously in the Pittsburg area and the over 120,000 Mead Westvaco ownership in the Androscoggin River valley — both went to TIMOs in the early 2000’s. Some fragmentation and change in ownership to public land resulted from many of the industrial to TIMO changeovers.

While the large private ownerships changed type, smaller ownerships, especially south of the lakes region, got even smaller. From 1993 to 2003, parcel size in New Hampshire has been reduced. In the 500-999 acre size-class, the data suggests a 50% drop in acreage. In the 1-9 acre category, a 7% increase was seen. Figure 7 shows the current number and acreage of private land holdings. These kinds of changes in the smaller size classes are not readily visible but the “nibbling” effect of size-class changes in the smaller landownership classes can be quite serious — especially in the loss of the 500 acre+ size classes since they provide for such a wide-range of public and private benefits. Approximately 49%, or 2.36 million acres, of forestland are owned by 124,000 family forest owners in New Hampshire. Most interestingly, only 4% of family forestland owners are under 45 years of age, 45% are between 45 and 64 and, 51% of owners are 65 or older. This demographic data implies a large percentage of forest land may be sold or past down to heirs in the near future, increasing the chances of parcilization. 

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It gets worse. The Forest Society proposal to keep lands in timber production was to provide a false market for softwood pulp through biomass plants. https://www.unionleader.com/news/business/eversource-balks-at-state-law-ordering-it-to-buy-wood/article_d80dc804-27af-5f47-a4e1-15e910d87c9f.html

Now a proposal to legalize industrial hemp at the federal level - thus being protected by the interstate commerce clause - may result in a new less expensive competitor to hardwood pulp used in pellet fuel.  https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/mitch-mcconnell-touting-victory-hemp-legalization-farm-bill

 

 

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13 hours ago, classicdmax said:

What stood out to be is the attempt to better educate riders as to the operations of Maine’s open space.

But knowwhere did it say that there is NO offtrail riding. It seems MSA fields a lot of phone activity concerning this issue, and there are guides and outfitter establishments that promote this type of riding. A model that maybe nhsa should look at a bit more closely 

Pretty sure that the NHSA fields questions on the subject. As for the guides and outfitter establishments, those are the private individuals that have contacted the landowners and gotten the permission... which is what we have already suggested.

 

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Backcountry Riding Update

The most popular sleds for riders to buy today are backcountry/mountain/crossover sleds. These sleds were designed for riding out west in deeper snow, but they have become very popular to eastern riders to buy and ride also.

One issue for these sleds is that the taller paddle tracks have some difficulty cooling the motor on hard-packed or icy trails. As such, many of the riders on these sleds look to get off of the designated trail and into some loose snow to cool the motor. This has led to landowners threatening to close trails because riders are not staying on the trail that was established many years ago.

One of the most popular places to try to get a “back country” experience is north of Rte. 26 in Coos County. The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters has several areas that are ideal for this style of riding and a group has formed to try to get some areas open to this “off-trail” riding. The Bureau met with several landowners to discuss this concept and a few things came up that no one had thought about in previous discussions.

The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters cannot be opened for off-trail riding in any locations. The landowner of the property does not have the right to allow this use. In 2001 the State of NH purchased a conservation easement on the property. The road network became property of the State and a vast network of “designated snowmobile trails” was documented and included in the easement.

Snowmobiling is the most protected recreational activity on the property. However, in 2001, the idea of having legal riding off-trail was not even a consideration and the easement was written to specifically protect the long-standing tradition of riding on trails only.

Even the landowner of the property does not have the rights to give written permission for riders to go off trail. It is important to note that the landowner has asked law enforcement officials to stop all off-trail riding on this property.

The Bureau also met with several other large landowners in the North Country to see what their thoughts were on designating some free-riding areas on their properties. There is some general support for this in the future, but we still have to work out a few things: how do we define the boundaries (likely will find an area that has trails on all sides and highlight the area within those trails); and does the Bureau’s landowner liability Insurance policy still protect the landowner for this activity? The insurance policy has always been written to protect landowners for use of a designated trail, not for riding anywhere on the property without boundaries. This question is still out to our insurance provider to try to get an answer back.

In summary, it is not legal to ride a snowmobile off of a designated trail in NH unless the rider has written permission from the landowner. And most landowners are not going to give that permission at this time. Technology moves faster than policy and tradition. We are continuing to work on this, but no guarantee we will have any solutions for this season.

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I would say the statement ''most landowners are not'' is fair. But unless a group forms and asks them, we will never know which and how many would. It is quite a bit of work to find out, and not really something the Bureau of Trails is tasked with. 

 

 

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