OHRV Parking in Gorham

Use of Route 2 Parking Lot in Gorham for OHRVs

Background: The Town of Gorham has requested a closure of the Route 2 parking lot for loading or unloading and parking of OHRV’s during the summer. 

Commissioner Stewart’s Decision on the Town of Gorham Request:
  • Letter from Commissioner Stewart to the Town of Gorham, Board of Selectmen.
  • Commissioner Stewart wishes to thank Selectboard Chairman Waddell and members of the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Denise Vallee, Police Chief Adam Marsh, and members of the public for their thoughtful comments during the public information session on April 12, 2021, and during the written public comment period.  

DNCR Response to Public Comment

How will the restricted use of the Rte.2 parking lot be enforced?
  • DNCR will collaborate with the Town of Gorham Police Department and the Coos County Sheriff Department to coordinate the enforcement efforts, including but not limited to:
    • DNCR will offer a written agreement to authorize the Gorham PD and Coos County Sheriff to enforce DNCR administrative rules, pursuant to RSA 12-A:1-d, II. The Gorham PD and Coos County Sheriff may use the summons procedures under RSA 31:39-d to cite individuals for violations of administrative rules and shall retain 100 percent of any fine collected under the agreement.
    • Applicable Rules include:
      • Res 7301.07, Restrictions in Public Use – DNCR properties, or portions of a property, shall be closed or restricted for public access by posting and /or by public notification by authorized DNCR personnel if: (1) An external subdivision of government requests the department to close a specific DNCR property at a time and for causes so listed below which the department deems reasonable.
      • Res 7301.16, Motor Vehicles - Motor vehicles left on DNCR properties during a restriction in public use pursuant to Res 7301.07 shall be subject to towing and storage at the owner’s expense.
      • Res 8502.04, Parking Restrictions - No person shall park a conventional vehicle in any area posted as restricted. Parking restrictions shall be accomplished by posting signs that spell out the prohibited use, by public notification by authorized DNCR personnel, or both, as appropriate. Any conventional vehicle illegally parked as described above shall be subject to towing at the owner's expense.
      • RSA 215-A:29, OHRV Operation and License - No person shall operate an OHRV on the property of another unless such operator has obtained written permission from the landowner except as follows: (a) Verbal permission given to an OHRV club or to the chief of the bureau of trails shall be adequate for operating a wheeled OHRV on trails established by organized OHRV clubs or on trails designated by the chief of the bureau of trails as wheeled OHRV trails.
    • Those who violate the law and/or administrative rules may be subject to fines.
How will DNCR inform the public of the restricted use of the Rte.2 parking lot?
  • Signs will be posted at the parking lot that say: “Loading/Unloading and Parking of OHRV’s is Prohibited. OHRV’s Use Rte. 16 Parking Lot.”
  • DNCR will collaborate with the Town and the NH Department of Transportation to develop appropriate roadway and directional signage that informs the public of the allowable use of the Rte.2 parking lot, the location of the Rte.16 parking area, and the allowable trail use by OHRVs at meet federal requirements for roadway signage.
  • DNCR will conduct a public information and social media campaign to inform the OHRV community of the closure of the Rte.2 parking lot and the availability of the Rte.16 parking lot for OHRV use.
  • DNCR will collaborate with the Presidential OHRV Club to update OHRV maps and websites with the location of the Rte.16 parking lot and to inform the OHRV community and visitors of the closure of the Rte.2 parking lot.
Can I use the Rte.2 parking lot for loading/unloading and parking?
  • The Rte.2 parking lot will remain open for loading/unloading and parking to all other recreational users, including but not limited to snowmobile riders, equestrians, bicyclists, mushers, hiking and snowshoeing, and hunters.
Why not close the Route 2 highway to OHRV use?
  • The request by the Town was to close the parking lot to OHRV loading and unloading.
  • The residents along Rte.2 who purchased their property based upon their ability to access OHRV trails and businesses from their property along Rte.2.
  • OHRV riders need to utilize a portion of the Presidential Rail Trail to access the businesses located on Rte.2.
Aren’t OHRV use and registrations declining?
  • NH Fish and Game Department reports the following for OHRV registrations:
Fiscal Year Period # OHRV Registrations
2017 06/01/2016 to 05/31/2017 34,949
2017 06/01/2017 to 05/31/2018 37,551
2019 06/01/2018 to 05/31/2019 36,020
2020 06/01/2019 to 04/30/2020* 36,329
*Beginning FY2020, registration period will change to May 1 through April 30th.
The Presidential Range Rail Trail Management Plan and OHRV use on rail trails and state highways.
  • The Presidential Range Rail Trail Management Plan of 1998, states that within the abandoned railroad Right of Way upon which the recreational trail lies, “OHRV’s will not be allowed at any time” during the summer. However, the Management Plan had not been updated to reflect the current use of the rail trail by OHRVs that was approved by the Commissioner of DNCR (formerly, DRED), see below.
  • Beginning in 2011, several towns, Chambers of Commerce and OHRV clubs in Coos County worked together to link OHRV trails and allow the use of state roads to promote economic development, boost tourism and keep tourism dollars within the region. OHRV riders would be able to use a network of OHRV trails and access restaurants, lodging, attractions, services and shopping located along state roads.
  • At a publically noticed meeting held on June 6, 2011, the Bureau of Trails presented to the Town of Gorham Board of Selectmen options for summer OHRV access and use of the Presidential Rail Trail, including the use of the trail from the Rte.2 parking lot easterly over the high trestle to the rail corridor owned by Brookfield Power. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to support the Bureau of Trails effort to open that section of the Presidential Rail Trail and the Rte.2 parking lot to OHRV use.
  • In August 2011, the Commissioner of DNCR (formerly, DRED), following the recommendation from the Bureau of Trails and supported by the vote of support from the Town of Gorham Board of Selectmen, and under RSA 215-A: 31, approved the designation of that portion of the Presidential Rail Trail from the Rte.2 parking lot east to the end of the rail trail under DNCR ownership for summer OHRV use.

Public Information Session

The N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources held a virtual public information session on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7 p.m about the use of the parking lot on Route 2 in Gorham for OHRVs.