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By Robert Janis

Progress Through Cooperation -- The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine

The Canadian border crossing were more than 80 machines took part in the trip to Canada.
The Canadian border crossing were more than 80 machines took part in the trip to Canada.

Landowner access is the number one issue confronting ATVers of Maine, according to Richard Barter, president of The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine, the state association for ATV riders and enthusiasts. “Landowner access is all consuming. I cannot state this enough. Without this, we would have nothing,” he said.

Founded in the mid 1990s, the association has a membership of 20,000 household members. Its mission is to be one voice in representing all ATV clubs when dealing with the state government and landowners and to encourage efforts to develop a trail system second to none.

As far as working with the state is concerned, the ATV of Maine relies on two members of a private lobbying firm as well as the efforts of the association’s executive director Dan Mitchell. Actions to influence the decisions of local city councils and other decision-making agencies are performed by members of the local clubs. “We will go in and add support where needed,” said Barter. “But it is the local clubs that do most of the work, and they have done a great job to perpetuate our activity.”


Aroostook River in the background and Canada on the other side.

Realizing that the local clubs are the foundation of the association, the ATV of Maine is actively involved in the development of local clubs. Potential members of a new club usually organize a meeting which is commonly attended by a representative of the state association who passes out literature and assists in the initial establishment of the infrastructure including officers, by-laws, incorporation and other matters. “We try to attend and participate in as many club events as possible,” said Barter. “We travel from one end of the state to another participating in events from poker runs to parades. Travel time from one end of the state to the other can be as much as six hours--from Kittery in the far south to Fort Kent in the very north.”

The association then uses the members of the various local clubs to achieve its goals. It uses the officers’ structure of the group to educate and motivate members to act on issues deemed important by ATV enthusiasts. “We have regional vice presidents that represent geographical locations throughout the state and they, in turn, work with the local clubs to advance ATV issues in general,” said Barter.

ATV of Maine road show at a recent large event in support of a local club. This took place in the western part of the state. We had over 150 units in this ride alone. We at ATV of Maine set up shop as an informational source and encourage those in attendance to join the organization through local club membership. This day we had a dozen or so seek out various club information to join ranks.
ATV of Maine road show at a recent large event in support of a local club. This took place in the western part of the state. We had over 150 units in this ride alone. We at ATV of Maine set up shop as an informational source and encourage those in attendance to join the organization through local club membership. This day we had a dozen or so seek out various club information to join ranks.

The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine is actively involved in organizing rides with the local clubs and uses these events to help promote the cause of ATVers across the state. In fact, noted Barter, rides in cooperation with local clubs have been used to support various fund raising efforts by state charity groups including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots, as well as other organizations.

As mentioned earlier, the association relies on cooperation to achieve its goals. “We work every day with landowners large and small to educate them on what the benefits are of allowing access to their land to ATV riders,” said Barter. The tactic of cooperation rather than confrontation has convinced many landowners to allow access. “We truly appreciate our landowners who have granted our users access.”

Downeast Trail system through some of Maine famous blueberry barons.
Downeast Trail system through some of Maine famous blueberry barons.

The group also works with outside organizations to achieve its goals. In fact, it recently affiliated with the BlueRibbon Coalition.

And, instead of litigation, The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine works with the state Department of Conservation and the Forest Service and Land Management Bureau. In fact, Barter pointed out that the association currently has a contract with the state Department of Conservation to develop ATV trails statewide.

The association also recognizes the importance of a nationwide presence and is working with the Wisconsin ATV Association and other state associations to create an alliance of state associations which can deal with the federal government on national issues important to ATV owners.

 

Members of The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine receive a discount in life insurance and a bi-monthly newspaper. The group offers landowner liability/event insurance for member clubs to purchase. “This helps in easing landowner concerns when it comes to liability issues when they approve motorized access to their property,” said Barter.

High atop a place called Fuller Mountain. It looks out over the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Kennebec River.
High atop a place called Fuller Mountain. It looks out over the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Kennebec River.

The website for The Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine provides a wide range of information of interest to ATVers. The site includes landowner policies, information on upcoming club events, classified ads, a list of current bills pending in the Maine Legislature, ATV Maine News, ATV trails information offered by clubs that manage the trails, information on 730 ATV of Maine clubs’ business sponsors, ATV safety information, minutes of past ATV of Maine meetings, the ATV of Maine By-Laws, and Rules and Guidelines. There is also a page that provides links to: Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; the New Brunswick ATV Federation, the trail manager for New Brunswick city proper and the province of Canada that includes New Brunswick; the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council; the Maine State Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; the Department of Conservations’ ATV program; landowner liability laws; Trails for a Healthy Maine; the New Hampshire Off-Highway Vehicle Association; and the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association.

Any ATV enthusiast who wishes to advance the creation of a network of trails and who just wants to have a good time riding their ATVs can join the association. For the group, it is having fun that is the ultimate goal.
For more information, visit the Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine website at: http://www.atvmaine.org.


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