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Author Topic: Snowmobiles  (Read 1926 times)
Ogre11
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Snowmobiles
« on: December 02, 2003, 12:09:46 pm »

Those who have never been to the area may not be familiar with snowmobiles other than in James Bond movies.  However, there are quite a few of them running around in NH.  I was reading the online version of the Manchester paper (www.theunionleader.com), and happened upon this article about another stupid lawsuit:

Jefferson family sues over son's snowmobile death

Now, I don't know the details of the case, and it sounds like B.S., but what was more interesting, beyond the obvious stupid implications if the suit succeeds, was information in the last paragraph:

Quote
Snowmobiling, according to the latest figures from the Institute of New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University, contributed $1.2 billion to the state’s economy last season. A law passed last year requires snowmobilers registering their machines to join a local club. Local clubs, assisted by grants from the state, maintain thousands of miles of trails. With a few exceptions, groomers are mostly volunteers.

Interesting wording.  A law requires "snowmobilers registering the machines."  That makes it sound like registration is optional?  That doesn't sound very likely.  I wasn't surprised when visiting Minnesota a couple years back to find dirt bikes required registration.  Yes, the $200 machine that you drive in your backyard required registration.  But could that be the case in "free" NH?

So, I headed on over the the NH General Statues online and searched for snow mobiles.  Uh oh.  75 hits.

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TITLE XVIII
FISH AND GAME CHAPTER 215-A
OFF HIGHWAY RECREATIONAL VEHICLES AND TRAILS Section 215-A:23     215-A:23 Registration Fees. — The fees to be collected under this chapter are as follows:
    I. Individual resident registration- $42 for each 2-wheeled trail bike registration, $75 for each snow  traveling vehicle registration, or $51 for each other OHRV registration upon presentation of a resident tax receipt, or a valid driver's license issued to a New Hampshire resident 18 years of age or older. An individual resident registering a snow traveling vehicle who provides proof, at the time of registration, that the individual is a member of an organized New Hampshire nonprofit snowmobile club which is a member of the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association shall pay $45 for each snow traveling vehicle.


So, it's state-sponsored bribery.  I did find an exception for registration if you operate the vehicle on your own property, which is good, but find it very odd that I cannot drive my unregistered snowmobile on my friend's property (with their permission).  I also cannot find the penalty for operating a snowmobile without a registration.

But why the $30 discount if you join a club?  Strangely enough, the laws do not show any hits to a search for snowmobile club.

However, the money at least goes to something important (or that's what the opposition will say): "shall be appropriated to the department of resources and economic development for the bureau's grant-in-aid program pursuant to paragraph VI" and "shall be appropriated to the department of fish and game for the purposes listed in paragraph VIII"

But still, why require registration?  If people want to donate money to create and maintain trails, can't they do it on their own?  I know I would likely also give MORE!  If I didn't have to register, I'd like give $100 a year to an organization that creates and maintains trails for me!

So, any opinions on this one as a target for "early" removal from the books?  It might be an under-the-radar item that could be used to show further success.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2003, 03:51:01 pm by Ogre11 » Logged
DustinD
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2003, 10:12:02 am »

I agree it has to go, I love snowmobile trails but the gov should not be involved. The FSP or the NHLA should keep track of this stuff so nothing is past under people's noses.
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Mike Lorrey
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2003, 06:51:04 pm »

Well, you need to be aware of the history here. The statewide trail system is not that old, it has been getting built mostly by clubs obtaining easements for the last 15-20 years, all of the work of building the trails has been volunteer work. Prior to this, the only trails were on state and federal land and registration was required to use those trails.

The discount if you belong to a club was enacted only once the club effort began to encourage people to join clubs and pitch into the trail construction effort.
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Blefuscu
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2003, 12:10:42 am »

Could the snowmobile clubs continue their trail building efforts without state involvement?  Who grants the easements you referred to Mike, and on what property is it granted?  Is it land that is currently under the control of the BLM, i.e. public land?

If public land is privatised, would the currently existing trail system be jeopardized?  If so, I'd see this as a sad loss to snowmobilers, but not an insurmountable one.  

What are the main uses of snowmobiles in NH, especially with respect to these trails?  Is it mainly for recreation, or does snowmobiling serve as an alternative transportation method for when roads are impassable to cars?  

I'm against state licensing and social engineering schemes, even when it benefits activites I'm interested in.  Snowmobiling is not all that popular around Dallas Grin, and come to think of it, I've never actually seen a snowmobile in person.  But I belong to an offroad four wheel drive club, and we do a lot of recreational wheeling on both public and private land.  

On public land, we're generally constrained to staying on the roads and trails that the state approves.  On private land where we've contracted with the owners, we can usually build just about any kind of trail we want, subject to the owners approval.   We can access public land for free, or with the purchase of an inexpensive yearly BLM permit.   We pay a per-day usage fee to private property owners who let us wheel on their land, so it is more expensive, but the greater variety of trails and challenges makes it more rewarding, too.  On the other hand, simply being able to access remote places and enjoy the beauty of relatively unspoiled nature is more easily accomplished on the vast tracts of public land.  

This is one of the areas where I have trouble maintaining a strict libertarian point of view.  I make extensive use of public land right now for offroad recreational purposes, and while it is possible to find private property owners who are willing to accommodate offroading activity, it is tedious to negotiate the agreements, and more expensive in daily use.  
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Mike Lorrey
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2003, 12:50:48 pm »

Could the snowmobile clubs continue their trail building efforts without state involvement?  Who grants the easements you referred to Mike, and on what property is it granted?  Is it land that is currently under the control of the BLM, i.e. public land?

Most of the trails constructed by the clubs are on private land that have sold or given easements to the clubs.

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If public land is privatised, would the currently existing trail system be jeopardized?  If so, I'd see this as a sad loss to snowmobilers, but not an insurmountable one.
 

If public land is privatized, it would likely be sold with easements for trails included in the deed.

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What are the main uses of snowmobiles in NH, especially with respect to these trails?  Is it mainly for recreation, or does snowmobiling serve as an alternative transportation method for when roads are impassable to cars?  

Most use it simply for recreational traveling, though some will use it to get around, especially if one's vehicle is snowed in, broken down, or if one has lost their drivers license... Wink

Quote

I'm against state licensing and social engineering schemes, even when it benefits activites I'm interested in.  
   

You'll get lots of agreement there, especially now that cops are patrolling the trails and giving people breathalyzer tests. It is certainly something that we can build allies over in the legislature.

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This is one of the areas where I have trouble maintaining a strict libertarian point of view.  I make extensive use of public land right now for offroad recreational purposes, and while it is possible to find private property owners who are willing to accommodate offroading activity, it is tedious to negotiate the agreements, and more expensive in daily use.  

Here we've got recreational activities on private land embedded in the way property taxes are assessed. If you allow access to hunters, hikers, fishermen, and snowmobilers, you pay less property tax on land categorized as 'current use' land than if you post it against these activities. This is an easy way to account for the positive externality a property owner offers to the public in general without the property owner having to operate a pass-selling operation.
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Blefuscu
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2003, 11:24:21 pm »

Well, it's really nice to hear that private property owners are willing to provide easements for the trails, but I wonder if there is a way such a thing could be done without government tax incentives?
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Mike Lorrey
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Re:Snowmobiles
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2003, 01:13:34 pm »

Well, it's really nice to hear that private property owners are willing to provide easements for the trails, but I wonder if there is a way such a thing could be done without government tax incentives?

The incentive isn't all that big, since it just applies to the land part of the tax, so if you have your land in current use, it probably doesn't save you much more than a couple bucks an acre each year. The big advantage of the state support for the program is that property owners are given a good amount of protection from frivolous lawsuits, i.e. if a snowmobiler hits a tree on your property, they can't sue you because your tree got in the way...

If this arrangement were gotten rid of, such liability protection would have to be written into any easement agreement with trails clubs, and only club members would be allowed access to the trails by the property owners. This could really hinder snowmobiling if you have to stop and unlock and relock a gate every few hundred or thousand yards, or make the property owner operate a border crossing station...

You really need to understand that property taxes are a means of accounting for the negative and positive externalities that all members of a community engage in creating. Your opening your property for trail use is a positive externality that you create and are paid for by a tax break. Most of your property taxes (i.e. all the local ones) pay for local positive externalities that you and your neighbors vote to have the municipal corporation operate. If you don't want those taxes, then you need to get these public operations privatized.

This is an issue that many free staters can easily mobilize for and make positive change in their communities. Privatizing the fire department and recreation departments should be the easiest. Schools would be next, then you are going to have to really work on privatizing police and roads, as well as selling off public lands. Minimizing the size of police to a constable and maybe a deputy or two is a good strategy. Demonstrating how public lands raise peoples property taxes is a good way to get public lands sold off.
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