Sign in to follow this  
jhwentworth

F&G CO's help stuck snowmobilers in Colebrook

Recommended Posts

IF you were the land owner where these 2 riders were caught, would you want them charged John Mercier?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't see this news as an "off-trail story", but as an expansion of the public's expectations of F&G from doing search & rescue to becoming a sledder's AAA. Get stuck, call F&G.

 

As for the off-trail aspect, from the story it's not clear if the riders were on a current trail, a former trail, or a road. Keep in mind there are many trails that are both a road and a snowmobile trail, and a club can choose to not groom a trail one year and groom it the next year. Do the clubs take down the trail markings if it won't be groomed? Not in my experience. 

Is there a minimum standard for trail markers on an approved snowmobile trail? I don't mean a recommendation, but a requirement. I think we've all been on a trail where it wasn't clear what was a trail and what was previous riders riding off-trail. Recently this happened to me on a trail that had no markings for a considerable distance, and it was obvious that previous riders were wandering around trying to find the trail. Each wanderer's tracks increased the confusion . If there's a mile or two of unmarked trail is this still considered an approved snowmobile trail?

On my first trip to Quebec I looked at the trail signage and realized that NH was in the Dark Ages of trail marking. Clubs have gotten better, especially on the "big" trails, but too many club trails are still badly marked. Clubs have to prioritize limited resources. 

There are plenty of signs that say "stay on the trail or go home", and that's good, but first you have to show me where the trail is.

BTW: Does anybody have an official description of an approved snowmobile trail? All I found was that BoT approved them and put them on a list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Technically, no. I've experienced that ''it is not an officially marked trail... but *wink*wink*'' a lot. Laconia had the issue with the Weirs' Bridge were it was determined that the club never had permission for a legal trail... and that statute had been on the books since the 80s. After the fact, the club was going to seek approval... but it was determined that they did not have landowner permission for other parcels for the intersections to that bridge... so the point was moot on getting the bridge legal. 

We currently have so many sled tracks from the State School property back to O'shea Industrial park to get to the gas station, that it would appear to most to be an official trail... possibly even groomed, though tracked up... and it goes past at least three signs that state ''Private Property, No Tresspassing''. There are no orange diamonds because the landowner did not permit snowmobiling there... but they put up the signs thinking it would stop further use of the unauthorized section... It isn't working.

Trail admins, and other, go to a class on trail marking... it is very exacting to the point that we under mark most trails and had to work with the BoT because it felt like we were creating view litter on these properties. Those ''Stay on the trail or Stay home'' signs are almost always on an official trail and used to deter thoughts of just a ''small'' violation. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, gunmaker said:

IF you were the land owner where these 2 riders were caught, would you want them charged John Mercier?

 

Hard to say... I let snowmobiles on my land.

But imagine that they did what I had problems with a few year's back... they lost their way and ended up in my front yard.

The First call goes to the club... signage needs to be better.

The Second call goes to law enforcement... rider, and community, need to pay attention to the signs.

The Third call, which we didn't get to, goes to BoT... done, land is closed.

The local club is dealing with that issue right now. Rider followed what they thought was legal trail... don't know the outcome other than the trail is currently closed.

 

It might seem strange that it has to be that strict... but I had a woodlot that I let rider use.

It was not near home, in another town; and I was stunned to get a call from the town threatening a lawsuit because I was building a non-permitted ''race track''. When I checked into it, they had cut a decent size parking lot, and were building ramps. It took a long time and quite few headaches to get everyone to realize that they were no longer permitted to be on that property. 

The excuse always seems to be that someone else did it before them, that they didn't know, that they saw it on-line, etc, etc. 

It got to the point that I sold the woodlot to house lot.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, thanks for the input. What I'm hearing from you is that same vagueness I saw in RSA 215-C, that assumption that EVERYBODY understands what a snowmobile trail is, and how to tell when you're on one. NH trespass law seems pretty clear that to be guilty of criminal trespass the alleged perp must have knowingly trespassed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, jhwentworth said:

John, thanks for the input. What I'm hearing from you is that same vagueness I saw in RSA 215-C, that assumption that EVERYBODY understands what a snowmobile trail is, and how to tell when you're on one. NH trespass law seems pretty clear that to be guilty of criminal trespass the alleged perp must have knowingly trespassed

It is the responsibility of every rider to know the laws and regulations. Which is why we had to sign the registration, and why the law makes provisions for when someone else operates our equipment.

Remember the old ''I can travel from my land down the road 500 feet because the law says so''; but anyone that read the law realized that the 500 feet was down the road from a designated trailhead. They simply read it the way that wanted.

My other favorite was ''I can change my exhaust system to make it louder... as long as I stay on the lake... because the law does not apply out there.''

It isn't just done in the motorized trail user community; but because of the scope of access and how critical each landowner is to what can be large parts of a system... it just cost too much to move the trail again and again, even if a reroute can be found.

I even saw a comment on the local club page that someone suggested those wanting to ride ''off trail'' should go up north. It is just moving the problem around and making it worse rather than facing it head on.

It was a huge issue for me with the quads. There illegal access would spoil a landowner's willingness not only toward a future legal OHRV trail, but could also jeopardize the existing snowmobile access. I couldn't wrap my head around why anyone would want to destroy all their future options.

Criminal trespass is different than a tort trespass. It is a violation of RSA 215-C:49 XIII, which is why you only get a ticket for the first offense and not get arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, John Mercier said:

Criminal trespass is different than a tort trespass. It is a violation of RSA 215-C:49 XIII, which is why you only get a ticket for the first offense and not get arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

You're right, but those administrative penalties are limited to $250 and the process is performed by DRED, not the courts. Does DRED follow a set of rules in determining if a person had reasonable cause to believe he/she were operating on a snowmobile trail? If there are no trail markers or other signage how would they know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DRED, now the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources,  only comes into play should the ticket be issued by an officer in the Division of Parks and Recreation. They would supply the prosecuting officer, and if the fine was upheld by the judge, would receive the proceeds from the fine, minus a court administration fee.

RSA 251-C:33 covers that.

The lack of signage is reasonable cause to believe that you are not on a legal trail. We, motorized users, have not been on permitted unless restricted since around 2004.

A non-motorized user can state, I didn't see a sign, so I thought I can be here. We have to state, I saw a sign, so I thought I could be here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

 

RSA 251-C:33 covers that.

'The lack of signage is reasonable cause to believe that you are not on a legal trail', then don't come up to where the wind blown fields are, cause there are no poles, signage or diamonds. You REALLY have a hard time finds where to get off the fields.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Down here on State land along Parade Rd (106) the Belknap Snowmobilers have stakes that are placed apart just a little wider than the groomer.

And I would guess the chance of losing a state-owned access would be much lower than on a privately held property. They put them up every fall  and take them down every spring. 

It may be that the local club needs a bit more volunteer help. Someone that knows the current legal system willing to make a small circuit and carry some extra stakes with signage and a mallet.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this