By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
TAMWORTH — Sled dog races will continue to start on Lake Chocorua and mushers will be able to use the same trails they have used in the past, but those trails will be closed to snowmobilers in the near future and removed from the snowmobile trail maps published by the New Hampshire Trails Bureau, according to Alex Moot, president of the Chocorua Lake Conservancy.
He said an article published in The Laconia Daily Sun on Feb. 7 about the possibility that this year’s Tamworth Sled Dog race might mark the end of a 90-year tradition was not fully accurate.
“The property owners referenced in the article have not closed the trails on their property to the annual Tamworth Sled Dog Race, and have never communicated this intention to either the Tamworth Outing Club or New England Sled Dog Association,” said Moot.
He said one of the owners, who wishes to remain anonymous, grew up watching sled dog races every winter and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Tamworth Sled Dog race.
“The property owners are now in direct contact with a TOC representative to reassure him that the Tamworth Sled Dog race can continue to use the trails on their property and to work out any race logistics,” said Moot.
He said that, over the past several years, the property owners have been experiencing increasing problems with snowmobile users on their property straying off the trails, leaving trash behind, peering into the windows of their house, and intruding upon their family’s privacy in various ways.
Moot said the owners are also concerned that the snowmobile trails on their property are being made broadly available online through snowmobile trail maps published by the New Hampshire Trails Bureau, since those maps attract multitudes of snowmobile users from all over New England and far beyond. He said that their names and home address were also listed online in one instance.
He said the owners contacted the Trails Bureau and asked if the snowmobile trails on their property could be removed from online trail maps but remain open for use by residents of Tamworth and surrounding towns.
“Unfortunately, the Trails Bureau told the owners that, if the snowmobile trails were removed from the state’s online maps, the state would need to close the snowmobile trails to all users, including local residents of Tamworth and nearby towns. As a result, the owners felt their only option was to reluctantly ask the New Hampshire Trails Bureau to remove the snowmobile trails on their property from its online trail maps, which apparently has the unfortunate consequence of the trails being closed to all snowmobile users. However, the owners have communicated to the Tamworth Outing Club that they are fine with local snowmobiles using the trails to groom the trails for the annual Tamworth Sled Dog race.”
The outing club has partnered with the New England Sled Dog Club in holding the race since 1937.
The NESDC was founded in November 1924 at a meeting at the Wonalancet Farm and Inn, owned by Arthur Walden and his wife, Kate. Walden, who developed the Chinook dog breed, was the first president of the club.
This year’s Tamworth race, which was originally scheduled for late January, was postponed to the weekend of Feb. 24-25 due to poor trail conditions.
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