ATV Task Force recommends standardized trail inspection process
The Maine ATV Task Force, created last fall by Gov. Janet Mills, recently finished its work and sent recommendations to the governor’s desk.
At the outset, the 15-member group was charged with addressing three major areas of concern: how to manage the growth in statewide ATV use, helping the outdoor recreation economy, and how best to protect landowners and the environment.
Maine has 6,000 miles of maintained and designated ATV trails. There are 70,000 registered ATVs in the state.
Mills said this about the role of the ATV Task Force: “The rising popularity of ATVs provides many economic benefits to towns and business throughout the state, particularly in rural Maine, which is why it is critical that we implement a collaborative strategy that supports that growth, assists landowners in managing it, and continues to foster Maine’s tradition as a premier outdoor recreation destination.”
Here are the recommendations of the task force:
- Limit the size and weight of ATVs that can be utilized on state-maintained trails in Maine to 65 inches wide and 2,000 lbs.
- Adopt Best Management Practices (BMPs) for construction and maintenance of state-funded ATV trails.
- Create a standardized annual trail inspection process.
- Develop a collaborative communications campaign for landowners and ATV riders.
- Maintain a simple user-pay registration system with one sticker type and price.
- Increase fees across all ATVs equally, having a differential for residents and non-residents and directing the entire increase to trail funding.
Representatives on the committee include Co-Chair Timothy Peabody of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Co-Chair John Bryant of American Forest Management; Matt Stedman of Irving Woodlands, Kyle Burdick of the Maine Forest Products Council, Tom Doak of Maine Woodland Owners, Julie Ann Smith of the Maine Farm Bureau, Brian Berube of Central Maine Power, David Montague of the Downeast Land Trust, Jim Sinclair of R.T. Allen and Sons, Dick Howlett of ATV Maine, David Jones of the Jackman Borders Riders Club, Ian Bourgoin of Fort Kent Powersports, Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association, Brian Bronson of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and Dave Chabot of the Maine Warden Service.
At this point the timing and method for implementing or revising the task force recommendations have not been released.
The author is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal.” He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program — “Maine Outdoors” — heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network.” He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com. or at www.sportingjournal.com.