Spring hasn’t been kind so far for area all-terrain vehicle trails, with recent flooding causing significant damage in several areas of Aroostook County.
Washburn and Fort Fairfield routes were affected by rising water levels, with culverts and bridges washed out in those communities.
Roger Hewitt, president of the Washburn ATV Club, was out April 26 inspecting the system north of town and reported there was still significant snow on the trail.
“Some places still have a 1- to 2-foot snow base. There’s dirt showing in spots, but 98 percent of the trail was all snow and ice. We’re going to need some nice, warm rain to speed up the ATVing season,” Hewitt posted on his Facebook page that day.
Along Route 164, there are a couple spots on the trail in need of repair, including a washout just north of the turn for the Aroostook River Bridge.
“We’re hoping the one washout is the only one that we have. The club will be fixing it soon; it will be covered under our trail maintenance grants. We plan to place that culvert a little deeper so it will have more coverage to keep the culvert from raising up like it does every season,” Hewitt said.
He said the club has posted the trail noting the season’s opening date is later than usual.
“As of right now, the trails are signed to open May 30, unless things start drying up,” he said.
“To give you an idea how far behind the open season is, last season we posted our trails on March 28 and opened our trails on May 10. We are a few weeks behind this season. This season, I posted them on April 14,” Hewett said.
The club president also requested that riders stay off the trails, especially the Crouseville trail where work was done late last year, to give them time to dry up. He said that to prevent causing more problems, he planned to soon walk rather than ride some of the trails to look for damage.
Hewitt said once the trails dry up, the club will begin doing its spring work.
“Once it dries, we’ll be doing our annual trail cleanup and maintenance on the trails that are dry enough. This will hopefully take place in mid-May. Right now, we are getting our equipment serviced and our clubhouse reopened for the upcoming season,” said Hewitt. “We’re a very active club and do many club rides and other seasonal activities.”
In Fort Fairfield, Police Chief Bill Campbell warned riders about a bridge that was washed away by recent flood waters.
“There’s a safety issue that you should be aware of on the ATV trail on the lower Main Street side of the river,” he said on the department’s Facebook page. “The bridge was washed out that crosses Paddy Brook where it dumps into the river. It is gone. There are still big pieces of ice on the trail, but we wanted to make you are aware so that when the ice is gone, you don’t drive into the water.”
To find out if a trail is open in your area, check with your local ATV club or local law enforcement officials. In Washburn, visit the club’s Facebook page for updates.