Don’t expect Bob Meyers to lend a sympathetic ear to New Hampshire snowmobilers who don’t want to pay to play on Maine’s sledding trails.

Meyers is executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. He says he’s heard the complaints of New Hampshire sledders on more than one occasion.

“They’ve got a $9,000 snow-machine on a $4,000 trailer hauled by a $40,000 SUV and they can’t afford $69 to register their sled in Maine?” he asks.

Maine and New Hampshire offered reciprocity on snowmobile registrations until about three years ago. New Hampshire sledders could travel on Maine trails and vice versa without registering snowmobiles in the other state. It ended in part because Maine realized that more and more Granite Staters were using more and more Pine Tree State trails without paying for their maintenance.

Meyers helped draft the legislation that ended reciprocity.

Now, he’s sitting in on negotiations with New Hampshire officials who hope to open roughly 17 miles of trails in both states to sledders from either state.

Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin is heading the talks for Maine, and Sean O’Kane, New Hampshire’s commissioner of resources and economic development, is leading them for that state.

On Thursday, they met in Gray to discuss reciprocity. It was the second such session this month; the first was in Portsmouth, N.H. On Thursday they agreed to meet a third time, suggesting that progress is being made.

“There’s nothing concrete,” Martin said after the meeting, but he also noted that scheduling a third meeting could be seen as a good sign.

Meyers said both sides have agreed to keep the talks confidential for the time being. However, he said the Maine Snowmobile Association still believes New Hampshire riders should pay something to use Maine trails.

Martin said the talks are focusing on trail sections in the Evans Notch area. Riders use the trails to reach Fryeburg and Bethel in Maine, and the Conways and Gorham in New Hampshire.

Most of the trail system involved in the reciprocity talks is in Maine, about 15 miles, versus two miles in New Hampshire.

Businesses in New Hampshire have complained that the lack of reciprocity with Maine has cost them money, since some riders in Maine are avoiding the New Hampshire trails.

That isn’t the case here.

“I have not had one complaint from a business member” about the issue, said Meyers.

Still, he said there’s a possibility that a compromise can be reached. It will be one that provides for maintenance of Maine trails, however, if he is to sign on to it, he said.

Out-of-state snowmobile registrations

Maine: $69 per season

N.H.: $93 per season, or $63 if a member of a New Hampshire snowmobile club.

Maine has 13,000 miles of snowmobile trails.

New Hampshire has 7,000 miles of trails.


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