December 26, 2012 - By Edith Tucker, The Berlin Reporter
BERLIN ?The idea of creating a long trail for ATV enthusiasts has moved closer to becoming a reality.
The draft super-easement needed to conclude a proposed land swap to close a gap in a key section of a ATV loop trail connecting the Berlin-Gorham area to communities in northern Co�s has been approved by the solicitor used by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), explained Umbagog Refuge manager Paul Casey at Wednesday�s county commissioners meeting. "We need to make a few minor changes and forward them to the State," Casey said, smiling happily. He expected to have the tweaked draft in the mail to the state Division of Forests and Lands within a day or two.
The North Country OHRV Coalition hopes to develop a Great North Woods ATV loop by June or July 2013 to allow riders to travel from Berlin-Gorham to Pittsburg, south to Stratford and through Nash Stream back to Berlin-Gorham. About a quarter of a mile of this between Success, Errol and the Thirteen-Mile Woods along the Androscoggin River now goes through the southwest corner of the Refuge, however. Because the USFWS does not allow ATV use on Refuge land, Casey and others devised a land swap with the state to allow trail connectivity.
The proposal is for the Refuge to swap an 80-acre parcel for the 130-acre Big Island State Forest in Wentworth�s Location. Because the Forest was purchased with LCHIP funds, however, the state cannot give up its fee ownership.
Instead the state will give the Refuge a super-easement, turning the management of the property over to the Refuge.
In order to get word out in time for ATV riding families to make their summer plans, time is of the essence, Coalition activist Harry Brown of West Stewartstown maintains.
The ball is now in the hands of the Division of Forests and Lands of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED).