By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Police will apply for a N.H. Fish and Game grant to patrol those who ride off-road vehicles on state trails.
Grant money for Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Enforcement may or may not be available to the town, but just in case, police are ready to use any money to keep riders safe.
The Town Council gave police the OK to apply for the grant.
“It’s an unusual grant,” police Chief Ed Garone said.
That’s because the state doesn’t know yet just how much grant money will be available to communities for this type of patrol.
“Derry may not even be included in their funds as this develops,” Garone said.
But the town will apply for the grants and if any money comes Derry’s way, it will be used to enforce off-road patrols on the state’s Rockingham Trail that runs through town.
Communities hoping to secure some of this money have to show the state they are prepared and able to carry out these patrols and have the proper equipment to do so, Garone said.
If money is available, Garone said, his department could do 38 hours of enforcement time at a rate of $60.99 an hour.
The chief said Fish and Game is strapped already on its ability to patrol all the state’s trails. There are about 35 to 40 Fish and Game officers focused on this type of patrol, he said.
With a 1,000-mile trail now in place in a northern part of the state, Garone said, state officials are putting emphasis and hours on that region.
Garone said Derry did not receive any funding last year, but doing the patrols on the local front is important.
“We get a fair number of complaints of people using the trails, but they are spread very thin,” he said.
Complaints include speeding off-road vehicles, people acting in a disorderly fashion, driving while intoxicated and underage operators.
Police would also check for the proper equipment during a trail patrol, Garone said.
He said having police on the trail is key.
“It’s more of a presence for the neighborhoods,” he said. “Patrols would be done mostly on weekends.”