Captain Michael Eastman: (603) 271-3129
Marie Hixson: (603) 271-3129
February 16, 2023
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Law Enforcement Division is reminding snowmobilers to stay on established and marked trails for the remainder of the 2023 season. Snowmobilers may only ride on trails that are designated and signed as a snowmobile trail. Although many new snowmobiles are marketed toward, and capable of, operating in deep powder and off trail, if it is not a signed trail, operators in New Hampshire must have written landowner permission to ride there.
Most of New Hampshire’s almost 7,000 miles of signed snowmobile trails traverse private property that owners have willingly allowed access to for snowmobiling. The public’s use of private land remains a privilege, and it has been a long-standing tradition in the Granite State for landowners to allow others to use their property for recreational pursuits. Snowmobilers have a responsibility to care for the lands that they enjoy in order to protect this privilege.
The issues associated with off-trail riding have become an increasing problem, and there are now a growing number of complaints originating from landowners, especially in Coos County, directly related to snowmobilers riding off trail. Taking a sled off a posted trail has a number of consequences. As snowmobiles delve into deeper powder, they damage the tops of small trees and kill others through excessive bark damage. This type of damage directly decreases future timber values for property owners.
Snowmobiling off trail in the wintering habitat of moose and deer causes increased stress for animals during the time of the year when they are most vulnerable. This increase in anxiety, and subsequent energy consumption, can have fatal consequences.
The marked increase in off-trail riding has also led to costly and time-consuming rescues for New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers responding to snowmobile emergencies in remote locations far from legal trails. “We would like to eliminate this conduct before landowners close off all of their lands including legal trails, as well as to protect the wildlife resources and the riders themselves,” said NH Fish and Game Captain Michael Eastman, who oversees snowmobile and off-highway recreational vehicle enforcement and education. “It is essential that riders show consideration for private property and landowner wishes; no respect equals no trails.”
As always, Fish and Game Conservation Officers will be patrolling and enforcing this law as well as speed limits. “We want to preserve the resource and ensure everyone’s safety while they are riding this season,” said Eastman.
To learn more about New Hampshire’s snowmobile regulations and to become familiar with this season’s new laws and fines visit https://wildlife.state.nh.us/ohrv/index.html.