Irene washes out ATV trails

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ROXBURY — An all-terrain vehicle club that has raised $6,000 in two years for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, now finds itself needing a wish for such donations.

Flooding from Tropical Storm Irene devastated several sections of the 200 miles of ATV trails maintained by the Roxbury ATV Riders Club.

The damage rendered many of the trails unusable by the thousands of riders who use them annually, club President Michael Worthley said Thursday afternoon.

One such trail is ITS 82, the major snowmobile and ATV route from Rumford to Roxbury.

“One way or another, I think they all are damaged,” Worthley said while standing in the huge washout on the Black Mountain Tower Road Trail.

“The worst ones are like this one here, which is our scenic ride and ITS 82 going from Roxbury to Rumford. There’s a big washout there.”

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“That’s closed right now and there’s no way they can get around it,” he said.

If he had his way, Worthley said he’d take out the damaged 36-inch diameter culvert and span the new gully with a long bridge.

The hard-working club is known for hosting some of the best family-oriented trails to ride on in Western Maine.

Last year, the Roxbury ATV Riders used Yankee ingenuity to build a 134-foot bridge over the Little Ellis River that wasn’t even touched by Irene’s floodwaters, unlike other Roxbury ATV trail bridges, Worthley said.

On some of those, Irene’s 6-inch rainfall in just a few hours raised brooks more than 6 feet high, submerging bridges, Worthley said.

When the waters receded, piles of woody debris were left behind atop the bridges. One bridge had its outer boards smashed upward by what Worthley thinks was a large log carried downstream.

At the ITS 82 washout, he said the rain turned a brook into a raging river that deposited two large boulders atop a crushed culvert.

“In the future, we’re hoping to do a multi-club work party to fix this,” Worthley said.

“Our club doesn’t have too much money, but we’ll do what we can.”

He said the Rumford Polar Bears snowmobile club may be able to talk the Federal Emergency Management Agency into funding repairs to their state snowmobile trail, but the feds won’t fund culvert washouts on ATV trails.

That’s one reason why Worthley said he hopes donations will roll in, because they can be tax write-offs since the Roxbury ATV Riders Club is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.

In the meantime, the club will convene a fundraiser ride starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

“We’re going to do another charity ride, but the charity’s going to be us,” he said.

“We’re going to do a mystery ride with a movie at $5 a head. All the money is going to go for trail work.”

At some point along the trail, the riders will stop and a portable movie theater and generator will be set up.

“It should be fun,” Worthley said. “We did it once before when we ended up over to Jeff Patneaude’s field.”

Irene’s damage all but halted an already shortened riding season. Due to all the rain this spring, the club didn’t open its trails until June 11.

“We had some bad washouts on Turk (Mountain) and we wanted to make sure the trails were all safe for everybody before we opened them,” he said.

Now, it will take a lot of work and money to repair most of Irene’s damage in time for foliage rides, which are one of the biggest draws of the Roxbury trail system.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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