The organization behind the “Ride the Wilds” ATV network in the North Country is in talks with Northern Pass about getting a multimillion-dollar donation. But the founder of the group says accepting such a donation would not indicate Ride the Wilds endorses the controversial project.
Under the terms being discussed Northern Pass would give the North Country Off Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition as much as $500,000 immediately, along with about 1,100 acres of land in the Diamond Pond area in Stewartstown and Colebrook. That land is valued at about $1.5 million.
If the Northern Pass project goes ahead, the coalition would get $5 million over 10 years and permission to open a new trail from Pittsburg to Dixville.
Ride the Wilds is a volunteer effort that works to boost tourism and the economy by linking about 1,000 miles of ATV trails in the North Country.
Its founder, Harry Brown, sent an email about the discussions to board members of the organization. The email was leaked.
Wednesday night Brown said the coalition needs additional funds to grow and further improve the economy. He said the money from Northern Pass would be “an incredible boost” for the struggling organization.
Accepting the funds would not mean the organization endorses the controversial hydropower project, he said.
The email said any offer would be discussed at a board meeting attended by Northern Pass, but closed to the public.
Brown said the board members would then take the details back to their clubs for additional discussion.
In a statement, Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said the project has a history of “reaching out to various local stakeholders to ensure the project can deliver unique benefits to New Hampshire.”
But he said Northern Pass is “not ready to discuss the specifics of any new, potential partnerships” at this time.