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ATV trails open, signs start disappearing


STEWARTSTOWN — It didn't take long for the colorful signs that mark all-terrain-vehicle trails to start disappearing once the newest section of a 1,000-mile New Hampshire ATV system opened, the president of the North Country Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition said.

Shortly after Gov. Maggie Hassan was on hand June 15 at Coleman State Park to help celebrate the official opening of the Ride the Wilds section, riders were reporting the discovery of bare posts along the trails, the signs removed.

"Well, it already happened. One, or more, of Ride the Wilds signs was removed (stolen) from a signpost on the trail and the trail has not even been open two weeks," Harry Brown wrote in the letter he circulated last week throughout Coos County to club members and others with an interest in ATVs.

Who does Brown think is taking the signs?

"Souvenir hunters. They're a very attractive sign," he said of the 800 four-color markers on the trails.

Brown hopes the solution will come in offering people the opportunity to legally buy their own 8-by-6 inch signs, partially reflective, and identical to the ones on the trails.

"We're going to sell them for $15. People won't want to display a sign unless they bought it. Maybe we'll mark them 'sold,'" Brown said.

About a half-dozen trail signs have been taken, he said.

"It's not a financial setback at all. But it's more than a nuisance, and it's wrong. It could be a safety issue if riders can't tell what trail they're on," he said.

The signs were posted where the newer trails intersect with others. They're intended to tell riders when they are on — or are about to enter — one of the Ride the Wilds trails, which make up an estimated 300 to 400 miles of the total system.

The system runs throughout New Hampshire's largest and most northern county. One of its attractions is the chance to ride long distances through some of the state's most remote areas. If ATVers get on the wrong trail, Brown said, they might end up going a much greater distance and could run out of gas in the North Country wilderness.

The sale of the 8-by-6 signs may raise some extra funds for trail maintenance, he said. But mostly ATV enthusiasts want the signs to stop disappearing from the trails.

"We want to put real pressure on people not to do it," Brown said.

Ride the Wilds signs may be obtained for $15 plus $3.56 for shipping by sending a check or money order for $18.56 to: Box 318, Colebrook, NH 03576.

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