It would be greatly appreciated if everyone who uses these trails (Class VI) roads could read this message, and pass it along to their clubs, other forums, share it on facebook, etc. to help the word get out. My friends are tired of hearing about it and I doubt they're the problem anyway. We need to get this out there as much as possible.
Post to share via facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ExploringNH...23936147715843
Post to share from ExploringNH: http://forums.exploringnh.com/showth...ke-Roads-Abuse
This will be a long post, but please read and share!
Pembroke, NH has about 12 miles of Class VI roads which are legal for vehicular use (as well as OHRVs if they are registered for street use). Most of these roads are interconnected and can be done without ever touching pavement. The vastness of this trail network makes it possible to be out there without ever meeting another person, although there could be a dozen others out there at any time. The network is also only 10 minutes from Concord.
These characteristics have caused it to become one of the most popular wheeling destinations in the state, and has opened the network up to all kinds of abuse. Spring of 2012 brought 4x4 owners from all over, who tore up the roads with ruts, hindering logging operations, and also held illegal mud runs on private land. In the summer of 2012, it was brought up at a town meeting to potentially turn all of these Class VI roads into Class B Municipal Trails.
Vehicular traffic is NOT allowed at all on Class B Trails - not even by landowners. This was an obvious issue since so much land would become landlocked which the town would need to compensate the landowners for (monetarily). In the end, the town voted to enact a legally designated "Mud Season" ban on the Class VI roads. By NH state law, towns are allowed to impose weight limits on Class VI roads just as they are maintained roads.
Signs were visibly placed at the entrance to all of the Class VI roads, as well as the power lines which could be used to (illegally) gain access to the Class VI roads.
Anyone caught driving on the Class VI roads would be fined $1000, in addition to being responsible for paying to repair damages done to the roads.
Sadly this stopped the responsible ones from going out, but many others just didn't care.
"Opening Weekend" came - the first weekend of June. And the problems got even worse. Bonfires, drinking parties, drinking & driving, littering, dumping. All the same problems as have always plagued these trails - but worse this time around.
I approached the town, to hold an official "Clean Up Day" with other members of ExploringNH.com, where at least 10 volunteers would come in and clean up all of the trash along the roads. We were shot down and told that group activities would certainly result in a call to the police.
To not cause any issues with the town, we called our Cleanup Day off - but agreed to go as volunteers and do a little work on our own as time allowed. I have personally done most of the work since I daily drive my Jeep to Concord 6 days a week, and make a pass through the roads after work. But we are thankful for the help from other friends and members.
At this point, we have cleaned up 55 thirty gallon trash bags full of trash (cans, bottles, misc household trash), two truck loads and two trailer loads of larger trash (results of illegal dumping), and eliminated numerous fire pits along the roads. All free of charge, on our own time, out of the kindness of our hearts, and our strong desire to keep these roads open.
A few weekends ago there was a group who had a fire on some private land off of the roads (where I know the owner - who does not want anyone on their land!) and I found items left behind that identified the responsible parties as well as a trail of Miller Lite cans down the Class VI roads to where the bridge is out.
Since the bridge has been out, people blazed their own trail down the embankment and through the rocky brook below (up to 18" deep) and through to the other side. Many people do not realize that this is a wetlands violation, and anyone caught driving in the brook can face fines of up to $10,000 by the NH Department of Environmental Services, as well as paying for damages.
HOWEVER these people didn't just drive through the brook, like hundreds of others have done before them. They took it upon themselves to drive off the bridge abutment, down into the muddy wetlands on the opposite side, in a deliberate attempt to get their Jeep muddy. Not only is this dredging in wetlands, but it is also destruction of Conservation Land (the piece of land on that side of the road is town-owned conservation land). From there, the trail of cans went back through private property down to another class 6 road. These violators have been spoken to, but I don't think it sunk in, because...
Two weekends ago (8/17 weekend) I made my usual rounds through the roads. To my amazement, I did not clean up ANY new trash!
BUT I went out last night, and this past week(end) has been one of the worst yet. I found four new/rekindled fire pits, all within close proximity of one-another. Including one on the private property mentioned earlier, and one in the intersection of class 6 roads!
There was also a trail of Bud Light cans with two sets of matching date codes, leading from one of the fire pits, down to the bridge. And you guessed it... MORE tracks off the side of the bridge and down into the swampy wetlands!
Before I post a barrage of pictures, I'd like to identify the issues going on here.
- Blatant lack of respect (sure, it may not be illegal, but sure does make people upset)
- Illegal dumping & littering
- Trespassing onto private property without permission. (*this includes the powerlines, which are illegal without permission*)
- Bonfires without permits
- DUI / Open Container (same rules apply on Class VI roads as normal roads)
- Laws being violated when leaving the trails presumably intoxicated
- Destruction of town conservation property
- Alcohol & fires on conservation property (violation of town ordinance)
- Dredging in wetlands
In addition to making my weekly loops through this trail network and cleaning up after those who have no respect for the trails, I will also be getting in touch with local law enforcement, NH Fish & Game, and NH Department of Environmental Services to see about stepping up patrols and monitoring this area.
Such behavior will NOT be tolerated, and in the end will result in this great network of LEGAL off-roading, to be shut down to all users.
Here are some pictures of some examples of damage and the work we've done.
One of many loads:
Fire pit that happened during closed mud season, at the intersection of two class VI roads.
The same fire pit immediately after cleaning it up on 6/11 (no signs of it existing now, 2½ months later)
Illegal dumping at the dirtbike track. If anyone has a way to dispose of this stuff, as well as the 80-ish tires out there, free of charge, let me know.
Private property where wetlands have been torn up
And now the damage from this past weekend.
Fire pit IN the road
Tire tracks off the side of the bridge, into the swampy wetlands.