- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - New rules governing snowmobiles and other motorized “over snow vehicles” apply to the trails in the national forests in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, but they are not expected to change the way the existing trail system in the forests are managed.

The new rules, announced by the U.S. Forest Service Jan. 27, require that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service managers.

The Green Mountain and White Mountain National Forests already have a designated snowmobile trail system and the public continues to use those trails.

“We do not anticipate the need for any change in our forest plan nor in the way we currently manage the existing designated trail system,” said Green Mountain National Forest Acting Forest Supervisor Dee Hines.

Jim Gill, the owner of Champlain Valley Motorsports in Cornwall, said many Addison County snowmobilers use the trails, located at higher elevations in the Green Mountain National Forest. He said he was unaware the Forest Service was considering changing its rules governing snowmobiles.

“In my opinion, no change is good,” Gill said.

The new rules, published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, were the result of a 2013 federal court decision that found the existing travel management rule violated an executive order governing off-road vehicle use on federal lands.

“Something has to be designated to be ridden on. And if it’s not designated you’re not supposed to ride there,” said Tiffany Benna, the public affairs specialist for the White Mountain National Forest, most of which is in New Hampshire but extends into Maine.

Winter trail use was already covered in the White Mountain National Forest’s plan done a decade ago.

“I know when it came out on Wednesday I called around just to reassure folks, ‘hey, it doesn’t affect us,’” she said.

Vermont has about 6,200 miles of corridor and secondary trails statewide. Many of those trails are in the 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest, but Vermont Forest Service officials said they did not have a precise map of national forest snowmobile trails in the state.

The White Mountain National Forest is made up of about 800,000 acres with 50,000 of those in Maine. New Hampshire has about 7,000 miles of trails with about 400 of them in the White Mountain National Forest, Benna said.


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