AUGUSTA — ATV use is rapidly increasing in Maine, and with registrations now totaling over 70,000 annually, Governor Janet Mills has created an ATV task force that will look at a variety of issues associated with the growth in ATV use in the state, including a focus on ATV use on private land.
The first meeting of the Task Force is Thursday, September 5, at 1 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine headquarters in Augusta.
“The growth in ATV use is a boon to many Maine businesses and small towns,” said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in a news release. “We are excited about the continued growth in the ATV industry, and this task force is an important tool in managing that growth, particularly when the vast majority of ATV riding occurs on private land.”
The task force is comprised of 15 members that represent landowners, farmers, government agencies, ATV owners and retailers, and snowmobile organizations. Maine has more than 6,000 miles of trails, yet with the increasing interest in ATV riding, there are concerns regarding ATV size, riding on private land without permission, and environmental damage.
“Much of Maine’s ATV trail network is on private land,” said Tim Peabody, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; and co-chair of the ATV task force, “and with the growing increase in ATV use, it is time that we review our currents standards for our trail system, trail construction, registration requirements and other aspects regarding ATVs.”
The task force will also be looking at expanding the existing trail system with consideration to private landowners, the growing size of ATVs and their impact; discuss maintenance and trail standards for the trail system; developing a communications and outreach plan with a focus on landowner relations; discussing registration requirements based on size and value; and discussing funding for the oversight, construction and maintenance of the trail system.
Representatives on the committee include Co-Chair Timothy Peabody of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; 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, 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. There still is a vacant position to be filled by a large farmland owner.
Meetings of the ATV Task Force are open to members of the public, with future dates and locations to be announced later. The task force has been charged by the legislature to submit its recommendations to the Governor on or before January 1, 2020.