STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
TO: All Conservation Officers
All Deputy Conservation Officers
Conservation Officer Trainees
Law Enforcement Office Staff
Dispatcher Kristen Ritz
FROM: Captain John B. Wimsatt
SUBJECT: Tracked ATV Discussion
The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the position of the Law Enforcement Division related to the operation of Tracked ATV's and ensure that all officers and staff are consistent with how these questions are answered and how situations are enforced. Many of you have received calls or encountered Tracked ATV's in the field. A Tracked ATV is a typical 4-wheeled ATV that has had the tires and rims removed and replaced with 4 individual belted tracks and in some cases two tracks on the rear wheels and two skis up front. I have had several discussions with Bureau of Trails staff, NHFG licensing staff, NHSA and the County Directors to garner their input. All organizations involved continue to receive calls from the public regarding where these machines can operate.
Based upon the need to ensure that we respect landowner's wishes, a review of the applicable definitions, laws, rules and related follow up discussions, the Law Enforcement Division's position on this issue is as follows:
A Tracked ATV can only operate on trails approved/open to winter ATV use. If they wish to operate on other snowmobile trails they can only do so with written landowner permission.
We must be cognizant of landowners that granted approval for a snowmobile trail but did not authorize ATV's. We do not want to blindside any landowners who may not want these tracked machines on their land. As an example, PSNH does not allow ATV's or Tracked ATV's to operate on their land. (They don't allow snowmobile clubs to use them for maintenance or grooming either) We have at least two other reports of landowners who will close their land if Tracked ATV's were allowed.
We are not allowing a Tracked ATV to register as a "snowmobile" with a "snowmobile registration" (we recognize that some of these machines do meet the definition of a snowmobile). We will continue to register an ATV with an ATV/Other registration to ensure proper accounting in our licensing office and continue with our long standing practice of registering a vehicle for its originally manufactured purpose.
In many cases, a Tracked ATV does meet the statutory definition of a "snowmobile" but to allow them to register as a snowmobile would infer that operation on snowmobile trails is authorized. This is not so.
Most DRED properties that have maintained snowmobile trails allow winter ATV use on snowpack (Pawtuckaway, etc). Therefore, Tracked ATV's are legal.
NHFG WMA's with approved snowmobile trails will allow Tracked ATV's on snowpack.
Most of the DRED operated rail trails that are funded with federal dollars do not allow for summer or winter ATV use. Therefore, Tracked ATV's are illegal. If you are not sure about the rail trail in your patrol area, contact the Bureau of Trails or call me and I will get clarification.
Many paper company lands in northern NH have lease agreements with DRED. These lands do allow for ATV use in the contract language. Therefore, Tracked ATV's are legal.
We are reviewing landowner issues and what regulatory changes would be needed to appropriately account for their use on the snowmobile trails (ie. paying the additional fee associated with the snowmobile registration.) If and when the decision is made to address their use on snowmobile trails.
Registered Tracked ATV's can operate on frozen public water bodies.
In closing, the purpose of this memorandum is to get the word out to all conservation officers and staff that encounter these Tracked ATV issues to ensure consistency and accuracy of information. Conservation Officers and other law enforcement officers are asked to use a great deal discretion when encountering tracked ATV's on the trail. Many of these operators have been given conflicting information from a variety of sources. I ask that you document the contact with a written warning so that we can keep a track record. This will also provide for an operator history in the event of repeat offenses.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
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