We are still amazed at the number of riders that have no idea where their snowmobiling registration dollars go, and that they have no idea who we, Bureau of Trails, are.
Not knowing who we are is not a big deal, we are okay with being in the background to make trails happen, but not knowing where your registration fees go seems a little off. For ease I will just use the fee for a NH resident, who is a member of a club: your total fee to register a sled is $66.
Fish & Game Department
From that $6 are fees for other services (electronic reg fee, agent fee, search & rescue fee). This leaves $60. From that the Fish & Game Department keeps $13 to run the registration program, coordinate safety education classes and perform law enforcement on trails.
Bureau of Trails
The Bureau of Trails receives $47. $13.70 goes to the Bureau for staffing, running state grooming tractors and building and maintaining trails. The remaining $33.30 goes into the Grant In Aid (GIA) program and goes back to clubs to perform trail work and groom trails.
100% of Your Registration Goes To Snowmobiling
More than 50% of your registration fee goes to clubs to groom and maintain trails. The remaining 50% goes to two agencies to do direct work on snowmobile trails and perform duties related to snowmobile trails!
That’s 100% of your registration fee going back to the sport. Still need to know why registering is important?
NH Landowners and Trails
Here in NH we are fortunate to have a host of cooperative landowners that allow us to use their property for public snowmobile trails. The key word in that last sentence was “allow.” The use of private lands is a privilege extended to us; it is not a right that we own. Many of the “old timers,” you know, the folks that are still running the clubs and grooming equipment, understand this and treasure it. But, not everyone understands it. When a trail crosses someone’s land the location of that trail is where the landowner told us we could use the property. If you choose to leave that trail and explore you are in violation of NH laws, but more importantly you are traveling down a path to trail closure.
Stay on Trail or Stay Home
When I first started with the Trails Bureau we used to give out a sign to clubs that said “Please Stay on Trail.” A few years later the Chief, Paul Gray, said we needed a new sign because (unfortunately) the “please” didn’t seem to work for a lot of folks. So, we made the current sign “Stay on Trail or Stay Home.” Now, this is not the cheerful and welcoming sign that some want to have on the trail, but it is a fairly accurate statement of the landowner’s desires. If you aren’t willing to stay where they ask us to stay, don’t come out to play!
Trails are a delicate balance in the eastern part of the country. We use very little federal, state or municipal land. Most of the trail network is on private property and it only takes one to change the network forever.
So, please ride responsibly and stay where the landowners and clubs ask you to. We thank all of the landowners that have supported trails over the years and those that we continue to work with, and those that we will work with in the future. Do your part as a rider to insure that we keep trails for the future.