Katahdin ATV trail opening could be delayed

Posted Aug. 17, 2010, at 9:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — A volunteer effort to create the Katahdin region’s first ATV trail network may be delayed by the discovery that a portion of the trail crosses an Atlantic salmon habitat protection area, an organizer said Tuesday.

The discovery, trail co-organizer Brian Wiley said, might increase the anticipated $70,000 cost of building Phase II of the proposed trail by as much as 25 percent. It also could delay the trail’s completion, which is set for early 2012, and require more fundraising.

“It was disheartening to me because it changed our approach and the type of money that would be required to finish the trail,” Wiley said Tuesday of the discovery.

As ATV aficionados, Town Councilor John Raymond, resident Paul Sannicandro and Wiley have spent more than three years on the regional trail effort in response to complaints that the lack of organized, legal trails deprives the Katahdin region of hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow annually into ATV areas in other states.

The three saw ATV riding as a natural complement to the region’s internationally recognized snowmobile trails, one of the area’s economic staples, except that it could be more profitable because it happens in three seasons.

The trail starts with Phase I running from the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club over a multiuse recreational bridge near Route 11 west of town to the South Twin area. Plans are for Phase II to go from South Twin to Seboeis, where it will connect with the statewide ATV trail network, Wiley said.

The protection area is within Phase II. It supplies clean water and nutrients that feed Piscataquis River salmon. To keep it pristine, the culverts used to make the trail will have to be handmade, open and wooden instead of the less costly plastic or concrete, as originally planned, Wiley said.

“We might also have to put in bridges where we thought we wouldn’t have to before,” he said. “We thought earlier this year that we would have had it [Phase II] done by the end of this year, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

Phase I is basically built and has been open to nonmotorized use since February. It lacks only final drainage, gravel and hardening. Trail organizers are working with a contractor to establish final costs and hope to have Phase I finished in time for the Trails End festival next month, Wiley said.

Organizers hope to go out to bid on the clearing, building and hardening of Phase II by mid-September, Wiley said. The bids will be issued through the club.

Raymond and a work crew opened the recreation bridge to nonmotorized use two weeks ago by installing a platform on it that hikers can use, Wiley said.

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