January 15, 2020

MDIFW NEWS: ATV Task Force Submits Recommendations, Report Focuses On Landowners, Growth, Economics, Trail Funds

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine's ATV Task force, created by Governor Mills to address opportunities and issues associated with increasing ATV registrations, submitted their report and recommendations to the governor this week, which include limits on ATV sizes and weights, and recognizes the importance of private landowners who allow public use of their land.

"I thank the task force for its work and look forward to reviewing its recommendations," said Governor Janet Mills. 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 Maines tradition as a premier outdoor recreation destination.

The task force met first on September 5, and over the course of seven day-long meetings from September to December came up with recommendations designed to manage the growth of ATV use, foster the economic benefits of the outdoor recreation economy associated with ATVs, and protect landowners and the environment. The report is available to view and download on the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website.

"In a relatively short period of time, this task force examined a number of complex issues and provided reasonable and practical solutions that foster the economic growth of ATVs, assists and protects private landowners who allow public use of their lands, and protect and preserve Maines outdoors," said MDIFW Commissioner Judy Camuso.

"The Governors ATV task force is presenting comprehensive recommendations and communications strategies that support ATV owners and private landowners, and maybe most importantly, funds for trail maintenance," said Amanda Beal, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

The task force, comprised of 15 members that represent landowners, farmers, land trusts, utility corridor owners, large forest landowners, ATV owners, ATV retailers, and snowmobile organizations, were charged with examining a variety of issues associated with ATVs and came up with the following six recommendations:

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.

These recommendations came as a result of the regular meetings, which were open to the public, an online questionnaire that elicited over 1,000 responses, as well as emails and phone calls from the public to members of the task force.

The 33-page report contains recommendations that were based upon the objectives Governor Mills set in establishing the task force, along with the background surrounding the issue, the discussions centered around the issue, a selection of public comments regarding each issue, and the next steps in implementing the recommendation.

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.

Maine has over 6,000 miles of trails of ATV trails, and registers over 70,000 ATVs annually. For more information on the ATV task force, please visit the ATV task force page; and for more information on ATVing in Maine, please visit the websites of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.