JoMary Riders Monthly Report – October 2007

Let’s start this letter with some good news. First of all, it looks as though the Cooper Mountain section of the Katahdin Loop trail is “safe” for this winter season. Even if the decision to put it “to bed” is made (rather than repair it) that action won’t occur until next summer. So the regular trail is in place for at least one more winter. Secondly, due to the closure and reconstruction of the Route 116 bridge over the Penobscot River in Medway, ITS 83 will be rerouted through our dooryard and will follow the KLT to the Turkeytail road. Upon reaching the Turkeytail road we will swing to the east and go 7 1/2 miles over North Twin Ridge. The trail will take us out on to North Twin Lake where we’ll have a 3/4 mile ice crossing to what has always been known as the Wadleigh Pond trail. From there the Twin Pines Snowmobile club takes over and 83 will utilize part of the pole line north of Millinocket (ITS 86), part of the Wild Kingdom trail and then the Stratton trail back to the original 83 north. Should prove to be an interesting winter with no services available in Medway unless you trailer there. Remember, THE BRIDGE WILL BE CLOSED ALL WINTER !! Plan accordingly.

Yesterday (9/16) Dave Silvia, Scott Clements and I flagged the only non-road section of our new 7 1/2 mile section of trail on North Twin Ridge. Some very thick woodlands that we have to hire a fellerbuncher to cut and then an excavator will go in and “fix it” so that we can groom it this winter. I’m estimating a bill of between $4 & 5 thousand just to make a temporary trail…..nothing short of the best is good enough for us!!!! In reality, this new section of trail will provide us with many other riding opportunities in the future. From here we can get around many miles of plowed roads and get to White House Landing, ITS 86 and the Nahmakanta Reserve lands.

Nine new belts for the groomers were ordered today, three for the BR 250 and six for the MP Plus that we purchased last year. The 250 had new belts on just one side when we bought it three years ago so we feel that it’s time to replace the belts on the driver’s side before we run into any problems. The MP has tracks that are (as best that we can tell) 13 seasons old and it’s time to rebuild them. Better to do it now than in the dead of winter.
For those of you who are regular readers of this club letter, you know that I talk quite often of landowner issues (as they relate to our trails) and of other topics that have an impact on out “sport”. I actually think of it as an industry rather than a sport. Unfortunately, there are those people out there who don’t consider it as either. In their minds, it’s “just there” and it will undoubtedly continue unabated for a long time to come. Guess what? They’re wrong.

As some of you may know, I am now the chairman of the Maine Snowmobile Advisory Council, a group of private individuals who are supposed to help with new policy recommendations and implementation. Being passive has been the norm for most of the recent chairman….I have no intent of following in that vein. There are far too many issues facing us as an “industry” to sit back and let others dictate policy that will effectively destroy what we, the clubs, have worked so hard to achieve. I could write a short book on this subject but won’t do it here.

The one thing I want to pass on here is this, snowmobiling, as we know it in Maine, is in real danger of  becoming a thing of the past. And the biggest culprit, the “organization” ultimately responsible for the impending ruination of our sport, is the State Of Maine itself.

Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) is in the process of drafting its’ new Comprehensive Plan for the unorganized territories of Maine. One of the four principal values that the Commission has identified to help define the “wildlands of Maine” is stated as, ” Diverse and abundant recreational opportunities, particularly for primitive pursuits”.

In other words, motorized recreation needs to take a back seat to the wishes of the greenies even though their numbers are actually decreasing as an economic force in Maine. It is my belief that, if the new Comprehensive Plan actually goes into effect, landowners in the UT will be so saddled with new regulations that they will have no choice but to look at the recreation taking place on their lands as a viable way to provide income for their stockholders and or owners. The proposed new LURC rules would make it virtually impossible for a landowner to sell house or camp lots in the unorganized territories. Providing an investment grade rate of return on the sale of trees/stumpage is getting to be almost impossible for the vast majority of industrial landowners. They need the ability to sell off lots to provide the rate of return needed by most investors. Otherwise, sell the land to the Roxanne Quimby’s of the world and to hell with public access.

Or, start to charge for that “Public Access”. Free use (in my mind a gate fee is still free use) isn’t going to be around much longer.

The Baldacci administration, including Department of Conservation commissioner, Pat McGowan, doesn’t seem to have the balls to stand up to the environmental organizations that want to keep Northern Maine as some private, non-motorized sanctuary for their members to frolic in. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), the Appalachian Mountain Club, Restore – The North Maine Woods, all of these organizations would love to see an end to snowmobiling in Maine. Or at least in the “wilderness areas” of Maine, i.e. anything north of Route 2.

We are in grave danger of either losing substantial segments of the existing trail infrastructure and/or, having to pay the landowners for the ability to continue to utilize their lands for snowmobile trails. The winds of change are blowing out of Augusta and unfortunately, they’re going to blow us off the trails. We need to become aggresssive in this fight. There is no place for passiveness when it comes to fighting for what you believe in. I for one would like to see more issue-oriented club letters rather than letters that consistently talk about pot-luck dinners and poker runs. We need more snowmobilers who are willing to devote time to understanding the issues that threaten us as an industry in Maine. Become knowledgable , take a stance, oppose those who oppose us.  Like the old saying says, “If you snooze, you lose”. Fortunately, sleeping has never been one of my strong points.

This entry was posted in Club News, Legislative and Regulatory Issues, News, Snowmobile Issues and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.