All terrain vehicle use along the Connecticut River and mercury contamination of the water were among the most significant concerns discussed at a meeting of the Connecticut River Joint Commissions Monday in Lebanon, N.H.
CHARLESTOWN, N.H. All terrain vehicle use along the Connecticut River and mercury contamination of the water were among the most significant concerns discussed at a meeting of the Connecticut River Joint Commissions Monday in Lebanon, N.H.
The CRJC, a cooperative effort between Vermont and New Hampshire that advocates for natural resource conservation along the Connecticut River, received recommendations from its five subcommittees for revising the recreation chapter of its Connecticut River Management Plan.
Three of those subcommittees, including one covering the Mt. Ascutney region, cited "the growing problem of ATVs" among its top 10 concerns.
"It's a question of responsibility," said Roger Marshall, who presented the subcommittee's recommendations. "They pollute and they create a tremendous amount of damage."
The committees said increased ATV use along the river has contributed to erosion problems and threatens wildlife. The Mt. Ascutney committee recommended setting mandatory ATV registration fees that would fund law enforcement, build trails and create a landowner restitution fund. The committee also recommended requiring safety education courses and encouraging ATV clubs to help monitor recreational use.
Adair Mulligan, the CRJC communications director, said they were not concerned with ATV use by farmers, who tend to be more consciencious of damage to natural environments.
Lelia Mellen of the National Park Service in New Hampshire said ATV popularity has increased as Americans develop more disposable income. She said problems tend to come from many of those new recreational users who did not grow up with an "outdoor ethic."
Mercury pollution of the river was also a common concern for nearly all the subcommittees. Mulligan said the pollution is air borne and largely attributable to coal burning plants in the Midwest, making local responses somewhat difficult.
The subcommittees recommended urging the U.S. Congress to take action towards reducing the amount of air-borne mercury delivered to the Connecticut River Valley.
Both New Hampshire and Vermont state legislatures are considering bills to address mercury exposure. Other recommendations included compensating landowners for keeping their land open to the public, protecting shoreland and increasing enforcement of boating laws.
The CRJC has been revising its Connecticut River Management Plan since 2003.
The plan was written in 1997 and addresses topics such as forestry, agriculture, future land use and recreation.