As emotions run high concerning the proposed Northern Pass electric power project, a handful of property owners along the Indian Stream Valley in Pittsburg are remaining steadfast in their refusal to allow snowmobile traffic on a major trail corridor connecting New Hampshire and Vermont. The land-owner’s decision to deny snowmobile traffic stems from revelations that recently resigned North Country OHRV Coalition president Harry Brown had purportedly entered into negotiations with agents of Northern Pass to accept between $250,000 to $500,000 annually for a specified period as well as about 1,100 acres of land in Stewartstown on behalf of the coalition in exchange for coalition public recognition that the controversial power transmission project would not impact snowmobile and other OHRV recreation in Northern Coos County.
Information about the supposed Coalition and Northern Pass deal came to light from an email communication that was intercepted and subsequently leaked to the press.
During a coalition meeting held on Friday, September 18 at the Colebrook Country Club attended by representatives of North Country snowmobile and ATV clubs, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Trails Chris Gamache, a heated discussion ensued centered on the wisdom to possibly release the coalition’s intention to refuse all monies and/or land from Northern Pass.
According to the minutes of this meeting, a vote on the motion resulted in a 8-8 deadlock with Mr. Brown advocating against further communication with the press, although he did not cast what would have been the deciding vote on the issue. The minutes indicate that Mr. Brown shortly thereafter expressed his desire to no longer lead the coalition and he offered his resignation and left the meeting. The minutes show that at this point, Richard Cotter of the Kilkenny Trail Riders in Lancaster was made acting president of the Coalition.
Mr. Gamache said on Saturday, September 19 that the closure of the snowmobile corridor in Pittsburg will have a significant impact on New Hampshire-Vermont cross traffic, especially during reciprocal weekend when snowmobilers are allowed to travel interstate without regard to registration.
“This is a major trail corridor, but its closure won’t prevent travel from Pittsburg to other points south in our area and I’m advising clubs and their members not to contact Northern Pass with any personal opinions as that could lead to negative results for all concerned,” said Gamache.
John Amey co-signed the letter distributed to the local press about the Indian Stream Valley landowner’s decision to stop use of snowmobile traffic on his land and he said on September 19 that he remains in agreement with the letter’s content.
“We are five people working together and Pam Frizzell’s 150 feet of trail is just as important as my three miles.” Mr. Amey added, “I’ve come to believe that the power lines should at the very least be buried and I would accept that as an acceptable compromise.”
Acting North Country Coalition president Cotter issued a press release on Tuesday, September 22, that states in part: “At a recent meeting of the North Country OHRV Coalition, the Board of Directors voted to respectfully decline funds that were awarded by the Coos County Job Creation Association two weeks ago. Over the past few months, the NCOHRV has been completing a reorganization of the Board of Directors. As part of this process the Board of Directors is also reviewing the priorities for the organization. We do appreciate being selected as one of the finalists for funding, but the CCJCA grant was applied for months ago by individuals who are no longer associated with the organization.”
Mrs. Pam Frizzell authored the letter announcing the Pittsburg landowner’s decision to disallow snowmobile traffic on their property along Indian Stream. She said on Sunday, September 27 that although she has been against the Northern Pass project, “right from the start, I really got wound-up when I learned that Harry Brown had begun secret negotiations with them.”
Mrs. Frizzell said further, “I like to snowmobile myself and I’d rather not shut down my portion of the trail in Pittsburg, but what I’d like to see is landowners and club members contacting legislators, the press and the Site Evaluation Committee to express their concern over Northern Pass.” She added, “If enough people show their concern by contacting the appropriate agencies, we might change our stance.”