AUGUSTA, Maine — With the snow gone from most of the state — except in the most northern regions — ATV trails in Maine sre beginning to open up.
However, ATV-ers shouldn’t head out on any trail until it is officially open and completely dry, and the mud season signage is removed, the Maine Department of Conservation officials caution.
The 85-mile-long Down East Sunrise Trail from Washington Junction to Ayers Junction, through Hancock and Washington counties, opened this past weekend, as did the 6-mile-long Summerhaven ATV Trail northwest of Augusta, according to officials with the Off Road Vehicle Division, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, under MDOC.
Most Maine ATV trails should all be open by Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, they said.
“We had a long, cold winter, so on average, we should have a dry summer, and that should mean good ATV riding,” predicted Scott Ramsay, ORV Division director. “ATVing definitely is increasing in popularity in Maine, with a positive impact on tourism and our state economy, and we want to see that trend continue.”
“Trail openings depend a lot on what the weather is doing,” Brian Bronson, BPL recreational vehicle coordinator, said, noting the great weather over the past weekend. “If this keeps up, more trails could be open in a couple of weeks.”
Maine has about 6,200 miles of ATV trails, 95 percent of them located on private lands with use allowed voluntarily by landowners. The state owns and maintains about 500-plus miles of ATV trails, Bronson said. The majority of the trails are maintained by ATV club volunteers, and it is the landowners and trail masters who determine when the trails are suitable to ride on, he said.
“The ones that are open are alright,” Bronson said, “but most are still having problems with being wet. Until the mud-season sign is down, the trails are closed.”
Ramsay said his division has been getting about 50 calls and emails a week about the ATV trails. Both he and Bronson encouraged those who are interested in finding out about open trails to contact local ATV clubs or dealers. They also can go to two websites for more information. The state website on trail openings is: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/ATV/whatsnew.html
or at the ATV Maine website: http://www.atvmaine.org/
Additional trail information also is available on the division’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/OffRoadVehicles
The 2011 ATV trail map now is available, the BPL officials said. The maps are available through local ATV clubs and ATV dealers. They also are available through MDOC by emailing Shannon.D.Morin@maine.gov or calling: (207) 287-2751.
ATV registrations, handled by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, increased last year from the previous year, Bronson said. The registration year extends from July 1 through June 30. ATV users can register online at: www.mefishwildlife.com
or by calling MDIF&W at: (207) 287-8000.
Bronson urged ATVers to join their local clubs and support the work being done by those groups. He acknowledged the work of local ATV clubs in promoting the sport throughout Maine, pointing out that there are “hundreds of volunteers who donate tens of thousands of hours” every year maintaining the ATV trail system on the property of more than 2,600 volunteer landowners.
Some 250 individual club members last year donated 40 hours each to trail work, he said.
“Without all of these volunteers, we would not have an ATV trails system,” Bronson said. “The next time you talk to a landowner, be sure to thank them and in some way, show your appreciation for their generosity.”
For more information about Maine’s ATV Program, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/ATV/atv.html