AUGUSTA – For the first time in more than a decade, an ATV task force has come forward with recommendations on how to sustain an industry important to business in rural Maine.
On Monday, leaders of the task force (made up of land owners, riders, and other stakeholders) presented their recommendations to lawmakers.
“Route 9 Beddington, there’s a snack bar down there…there will be ten, twelve families, all riding together and they come in there for a meal and to get gas,” said John Bryant, the co-chair of the Maine ATV Task Force.
According to the task force, more than 80 percent of the state supported ATV trail system is on private land.
They’re looking to keep those trails from taking a beating, by recommending the legislature limit the size and weight of ATVs, something some lawmakers agree with.
“There have been concerns about them just because they are getting bigger and bigger, so you may as well be driving a Humvee up through there at times,” said Sen. Jim Dill (D – Old Town).
The proposed limit is 65 inches wide and a max of 2,000 pounds, but current registrations of vehicles over that limit would be grandfathered, and oversized ATVs could be used on private land with the landowner’s permission.
“A lot of farmers are using ATVs as small tractors, I‘m a case in point,” said Rep. MaryAnne Kinney (R – Knox).
Other recommendations include standardizing trail inspections and developing a public education campaign.
Task force members said funding trail improvements is a challenge, so they’re also looking to increase registration fees, possibly as by much as $29 for Maine residents.
“We all understand nobody wants to have a fee increase … so they’ll [lawmakers] struggle with that to have a fair funding mechanism across all ATV riders,” said Tim Peabody, the chair of the Maine ATV Task Force.
Next in this process will be a work session for legislators to figure out which of these recommendations they want to include in a bill.