ATV Maine is a 501(c)(3) membership organization with approximately 6,000 members in 83 ATV Clubs across the state. There are also 287 supporting business members.
We would like to take just a few minutes to go over the events and processes that have occurred over the past several years which have taken a once out of control activity and turned it into a great family outdoor sport that generates an economy of 220 million dollars a year.
Starting in 1997 ATVs were an endangered species. Because of the bad behavior of some riders, there was an explosion of proposed legislation that would have prohibited ATV riding just about everywhere. And with good reason!
The environmental damage caused by ATVs and the disrespect shown towards landowners was the catalyst for much of the proposed legislation aimed at curbing the problems caused by people riding their ATV anywhere they felt like going.
In 1997 ATV Maine was formed by a very small number of existing ATV Clubs with Brian Bronson of the Department of Conservation acting as a mentor throughout the process. Our mission is simple: ATV Maine is a statewide organization representing all affiliated ATV Clubs in Maine.
Our purpose is to promote education regarding the safe and responsible use of ATV’s and to be a unified voice on legislative issues regarding ATV use and to share information with our affiliated clubs and the general public.
2003 – 2009
In 2003, Governor Baldacci formed the ATV Task Force resulting in the Landowner Permission law. Between 2004-2009, more than one hundred and forty clubs formed statewide as a direct result of the requirement to have verbal and in some cases written permission to operate an ATV on private property. Clubs around the state began a systematic approach to gathering landowner permission and building long term relationships with landowners. This activity has produced 6,000 miles of interconnected ATV trails here in Maine.
These landowners had some very fundamental expectations of the clubs when they were granted permission to use their land. One of those expectation shared by many landowners was for law enforcement to do their part making sure that ATV’s were operated where they had permission and to hold those accountable that operate on private land without permission.
It has been our experience that once a club loses connectivity to its neighboring clubs they dissolve and that no amount of effort put forth by ATV Maine, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, the Warden Service or even a local town council has been able to get another club started in those areas. Through the graces of private landowners that allow access and the volunteer efforts of thousands of club members, the State of Maine as a whole has benefited by the creation of the largest interconnected ATV Trail system in the country. It has only been during the last couple of years that many of the long sought after connections that make it possible to go on multi day ATV Trips have come to fruition.
This benefits not just the riders but the businesses along the trail. ATV riders don’t just want to ride ATV’s in a circle! We stop at restaurants, gas stations, campgrounds, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, you name it. Many towns are opening their doors to our industry. In fact, the money spread around by ATV’ers ends up in the hands of the small rural business owners who need it the most to make a profit.
Businesses and sporting camps are turning towards the ATV industry for business to make up for the hunters and other sportsmen they have lost over the past decade. Others are more obvious like the ATV dealers and rental businesses and the contractors we hire to maintain the trails.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry is now training the clubs how to perform proper trail construction using their manual of “Best Management Practices” combined with hands-on training sessions. The result of all of this is a trail system that is safe, sustainable and fun for the whole family. This (220 Million dollar) economy that is generated by this sport is held in a very delicate balance of private landowners allowing access and the ATV Club volunteers that build relationships with those landowners. It only takes one misunderstanding, one broken promise or a change in ownership to create a disconnect, that in some cases cannot be rerouted.
“Thank you to all of the landowners that provide
us with the opportunity to use their land.”
-ATV Maine Team and Affiliated ATV Clubs