By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A project that will see all of the 5,000 miles of snowmobile trails in New Hampshire mapped will enhance the ability of emergency responders to locate and quickly extricate people who have suffered injuries or who may face life-threatening situations in the backwoods.
The project utilizes GPS tracking information from cell phones and other technology and much of the work has already been completed north of the Lakes Region according to Pete DeNutte, assistant director of the Department of Safety's Bureau of Emergency Communications, and Sean Goodwin, who is in charge of special projects for the bureau.
Chris Gamache, head of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development's Bureau of Trails, said that snowmobile clubs throughout the state have been assisting in the mapping project and that an October deadline has been set to complete the mapping.
Once all of the information has been received, it is estimated that it will take as long as a year for the so-called "back office work" to be completed to make it a totally functional system.
The mapping presentation was held at Department of Safety's GIS mapping office at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property off from North Main Street.
It was the first event of the day in the annual District 1 Executive Council snowmobile tour which was conducted by District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney. Gamache said that the tour, which went by snowmobile from Laconia and along the rail corridor through Ashland and into Plymouth, was designed to show the variety of terrain which is being mapped.
Among those taking the trip was Major John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, who said that the department conducted over 240 search and rescue missions last year, which compares to an average of 180 per year in the last five years.
He said the department spends $300,000 a year on those missions, which are partially paid for with dedicated funds but still require sportsmen's dollars. He said that the new Hike Safe program is producing some benefits for the department's operations.
Gamache noted that snowmobile recreation provides a $584 million boost to the state's economy, which compares very favorably with the $1 billion realized from Alpine skiing.
The annual District 1 Eexecutive Council snowmobile tour was held Friday starting at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
David Rivers, chief of operations at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property, discusses how the center works with a group of state officials and representatives of the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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