is a non-profit
corporation registered in New Hampshire.
It was established in April of 2004 by Andrew and Sherri Walters. They
were nearing completion of a three-year renovation of a cottage located just outside the village center in historic Fitzwilliam, New
Hampshire. The charm, peace and quiet of the rural community is why they
chose to live in Fitzwilliam.
weekend in April of 2004, much to their surprise, what was a sleepy and lightly
used rail trail was transformed into an obnoxiously noisy ATV raceway. The
corridor is the former Cheshire Division of the Boston & Maine Railroad now the
Cheshire Rail Trail—which runs adjacent to their cottage. For this
weekend, the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED—the
unusually named Parks agency in NH) allowed 350 ATVs to use the rail trail.
When the Walters called DRED to complain about the use of ATVs on the rail trail
they essentially said that DRED makes the rules and that the Walters’ concerns
were not a priority. On that day they realized they were partly to blame for
not more actively protecting our environment and for allowing a small, but well
funded ATV lobbying organization to speak in Concord on their behalf. They
realized that when they say nothing they are really giving their voice to
the start of ATV Watch.
time ATV Watch has established a website and helped to organize a network of
citizens willing to participate in the legislative process. We soon
found that the strongest proponent for ATV trail development is the Bureau of
Trails (BOT), a division of DRED. They are funded directly from ATV
registration fees. ATV Watch also quickly learned that DRED’s most effective
way to silence the opposition is to simply not disclose any information on their
ATV trail development related activities. This effectively blinded us so we
could never get ahead of the issues, which resulted in our efforts being less
in New Hampshire, the State Constitution as well as numerous State laws,
recognize that openness in government is fundamental to our democratic process.
ATV Watch’s current effort is to require DRED to comply with State disclosure
laws. DRED is so used to no one ever questioning their lack of disclosure that
we have surprised them with our focus and determination. DRED and the Attorney
General’s office have thus far been able to manipulate the laws and the Court so
as to not be held accountable for their violations of the law. ATV Watch
believes that DRED’s actions cannot be indefinitely unaddressed, so we are now
in the State of New Hampshire Supreme Court attempting to hold DRED and the
Attorney General’s office accountable to the law. At this time ATV Watch
this is the best way we can help the voices of the citizens to be effectively
heard on the State level.
last couple of years we have also been actively participating in trying to
protect the environment and the peace and quiet of our communities on the
legislative level. We helped to defeat a bill that would have allowed ATV trail
development near public water supplies. We backed legislation to strengthen the
protection of the environment and the laws governing ATV use. Most recently we
backed legislation to require environmental, safety and community reviews prior
to developing ATV trails on rail trails. DRED was instrumental in quickly
getting this bill killed which brings us back to our current primary focus,
disclosure. If DRED is forced to disclose their policies and activities, then
the 98% of the citizens of New Hampshire that do not own a registered ATV could
take more effective actions.