Forest Service warns mudders to follow laws

Posted April 29, 2009, at 7:36 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — Mudders, take note: It is against the law to tear up Maine’s woodland back roads for the fun of it, and the Maine Forest Service is looking for you.

District Ranger Jeff Currier said Wednesday that a growing number of landowners, along with hikers, hunters, anglers and other recreational land users, are complaining that heavy four-wheel-drive trucks have caused deliberate damage to remote forest access roads. It can cost landowners thousands of dollars to make their roads passable again, he said.

The “mudding” problem is pronounced in rural sections of Milford and Costigan, as well as in Washington and Aroostook counties, he said.

“People get cabin fever in the spring and can’t wait to get out on these soft back roads,” Currier said, attempting to explain the local passion for burying a truck up to its axles in sticky Maine mud. But the practice, whether on public or private roads, is against the law, he said, and can result in prosecution and significant fines.

The only exception is if a private landowner has granted specific permission, as is the case with popular competitive “mud runs” in some rural areas of the state.

In addition to legal repercussions, private landowners and land managers who have traditionally allowed public access for recreational use may decide to gate off their roads, Currier said.

“That punishes everyone,” he said.

Landowners, recreational users or others wishing to report damage to back roads in the Maine woods should call the forest service toll-free at 800-750-9777.

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