Community collaboration transforms trails and ride practices in New Hampshire
The Polaris Foundation awards $100,000 grant to improve Ride the Wilds™ system
COLEBROOK, N.H. (Nov. 15, 2018) — Six local organizations are linking arms for the first time to bring change to the North Country trail system, Ride the Wilds, while raising industry standards for motorsport riding nationally. Funding the project, The Polaris Foundation has given the newly formed alliance a $100,000 grant, which will go toward the creation and installation of 1,000 new ATV trail signs that will provide directional guidance and promote safe and responsible riding practices throughout the trail system.
“Ride the Wilds is an iconic trail system that provides thousands of miles of trails where riders can create memories, discover adventures and spend time with friends and family,” said Lucy Clark Dougherty, president of the Polaris Foundation. “Polaris is honored to support this community’s collaborative effort to enhance off-road riding experiences.”
Working together to improve community relations by showcasing a strong collaboration between township, clubs, landowners and state entities, organizations included in the alliance are Bear Rock Adventures, Great Northwoods Riders ATV Club, Metallak ATV Club, Millsfield ATV Club, The North Country Chamber of Commerce and Umbagog ATV Club. With a focus on improving overall rider education, safety and experience through better signage, expected completion is May 2019.
“The new initiative will improve navigation, decrease improper access and enhance the overall quality of the trail system,” said Corrine Rober, owner of Polaris Adventures® Certified Outfitter, Bear Rock Adventures and marketing chair for North Country Chamber of Commerce. “Bear Rock is on the front lines when it comes to customer feedback, and one of the most consistent recommendations from our guests is to improve ATV trail signage. With tourism growing in our community, it’s our job to provide these improvements and ongoing education so locals and tourists alike can properly utilize our trails.”
According to New Hampshire’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, data shows tourism is a driving factor of economic growth in Coos County. Largely due to off-roading, Ride the Wilds has been the only economic initiative in the county since 2013. From 2012 to 2017, spending on lodging and meals increased 34 percent annually, which rose to 37 percent during months when off-road trails were open. This added spending helps support local economies through jobs and the generation of additional tax revenue.
In addition to promoting tourism, the alliance has been in direct collaboration with Chris Gamache, the head of the Bureau of Trails for the state, to ensure the signage is also helping reach larger bureau initiatives throughout the trail system.
“The project to improve ATV trail signage, which is one of the most significant areas of improvement needed on the trails, is a tremendously positive initiative, and we look forward to working on these improvements with the local clubs and chambers,” said Gamache, chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails.
Communities benefitting from the new signage include Clarksville, N.H; Colebrook, N.H.; Columbia, N.H.; Dixville Notch, N.H.; Errol, N.H.; Millsfield, N.H.; Pittsburg, N.H.; West Stewartstown, N.H.; Averill, Vt.; Beecher Falls, Vt.; Canaan, Vt.; and Lemington Vt.
For more information, visit https://www.chamberofthenorthcountry.com/ridingtowardchange.html.