Oversize ATV Law Causes Stir For Landowners and Snowmobile Clubs

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 9:43 AM EDT
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A law that recently went into effect concerning oversize ATVs has been causing quite a stir in Aroostook County among landowners and Snowmobile Clubs. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story.

In the early morning hours of October 28th, Emily Smith, of Smith Farms, made a post on social media stating that the contracts Smith Farms had with a few local snowmobile clubs would be retracted until a law on oversize ATV’s, that recently went into effect, was amended.

The law went into effect on October 18th. According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife any new ATV wider than 65 inches or that weighs more than 2,000 pounds cannot be registered with the state unless it is registered before January 1, 2022. Smith feels that the law was rushed through the process without proper input from land and atv owners.

“This is unanimous out of committee, not being heard by the house, not being heard by the senate… and no one can draw attention to it unless we stand up and say “Somebody Listen”…Rather than just passing laws that people may or may not have had input on”, says Smith

Several snowmobile clubs and operators saw the statement and felt as though Smith, who’s land has dozens of miles of snowmobile trail running through it, was holding the snowmobile industry of Northern Maine hostage over a law that does not mention or include snowmobiles whatsoever.

“We are grateful to allow people to use our land, and this isn’t the position that we wanted to be put in…But we’ve been contacted by manufacturers, by dealers, by individuals, by clubs, to say “Can somebody bring some attention back to this bill that passed really without representation” " says Smith

The same day that Smith posted on social media about retracting the land use contracts, Representative Dustin White from Mars Hill gave a press release proposing an amendment to the ATV law.

“Theres no one size fits all solution, so its getting all of the stakeholders together in a room and having the conversation of, so this is what the issue is, how do we address it without the unintended consequences that we currently have…Trying to meet everyone in the middle where, alright, what’s the issue, how can we fix it, because I believe the bill was well intended… so I think the best way to approach that would be to amend the weight limit up to 2500 pounds” - Rep. Dustin White – (R) Mars Hill

For George Mclaughlan, Former President of the Fort Fairfield Snowmobile Club, he see’s the proposal of this amendment as a way to support a local landowner who has allowed his club to run trails through their land for years.

“A lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to get out and voice their opinions, and I think it’s very important that clubs, landowners, and individuals get the opportunity to voice their opinions, that’s really how these rules should be governed…For over 30 years Smith Farms has generously allowed us access, and they’ve also supported us, but we also support them, which I think is the primary part of working together” says Mclaughlan

In the end, Smith went on to say this regarding the contracts with local snowmobile clubs.

“The contracts for the snowmobiles have been signed with the clubs, if we want to retract those we would have to do that in writing, and we have not done that. But we wanted this attention to come for this bill, so that it can be addressed, I think that’s going to happen. The snowmobile trails are going to be open. The snows going to fly and we’re going to ride our sleds.” - Emily Smith – Smith Farms

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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