Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Thomas Thomson’s guest editorial touts the “positive partnership” with private landowners that makes New Hampshire’s $1.2 billion snowmobile industry possible (“Private landowners a key link in N.H.’s economy,” Jan. 7-20 New Hampshire Business Review). Private landowners allow 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails (almost 90 percent of the total) on their land. Without these trails there would be no snowmobile industry in the state.

Funny thing is, the average landowner doesn’t see even a nickel of the big money from snowmobiling. Instead, the big bucks go to the snowmobile dealers, hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses catering to motorized recreation. Some partnership.

Mr. Thompson calls this a “great example” for private landowners. Hmmm… We only own 1,700 acres of New Hampshire land vs. Mr. Thompson’s 2,800 acres, so maybe he knows something we don’t, but from our perspective, New Hampshire landowners are being chumps. Why should landowners put up with the noise, bother, trespass and potential liability from big-money snowmobile trails and get nothing in return?

Vermont is looking at compensating landowners who allow snowmobile trails. New Hampshire should too. Each mile of snowmobile trail on private land generates roughly $200,000 of business in New Hampshire. Shouldn’t the landowners who make it all possible get a little cut, say 10 percent? An annual landowner payment at this level (equivalent to $20,000 per mile of trail) would go a long way toward preserving the state’s farms, forests and open space.

Jim and Sandy Dannis
Milford and Dalton

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