AUGUSTA – Potential bad news for ATV owners: A proposal in the Legislature would nearly double ATV registration costs.

The good news: For those belonging to an eligible ATV club, the costs could be slashed back to their starting point, and then lowered by $3.

Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, has proposed a bill that would increase fees for ATV registrations from $33 to $70 for residents, and $68 to $105 for nonresidents.

For those in clubs who are “in good standing with the secretary of state and recognized by the Department of Conservation as maintaining ATV trails for the public,” residents would pay $30 and nonresidents would pay $65.

At first, Bryant simply wanted to study the issue, so he submitted a resolve.

Through the public hearing process, however, it was clear the bill was necessary, Bryant said.

Dixfield resident Dan Mitchell, executive director of the Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine, said the change is necessary to encourage people to join ATV clubs.

Before the Legislature began responding in 2003, there were problems with ATV users vandalizing and trespassing on private property, he said.

ATV clubs were formed to provide public areas for members to ride, and to keep open lines of communication.

However, Mitchell is opposed to a clause that seeks to cap ATV club dues at $20 for individuals and $25 for families.

“Clubs have different expenses,” Mitchell said. In a separate interview, he noted that he would like to do away with the higher ATV fees for out-of-staters.

Maine has more ATV trail space than all of the other ATV states combined, he said.

Bryant’s bill received a quick public hearing Tuesday, the same day the bill was printed. A roomful of supporters came, but few spoke. The bill will be worked by the committee on Thursday.

Also Tuesday, Bryant attached an amendment to the bill that would create and implement an Outdoor Licensed Network “with the purpose of acquiring, preserving and enhancing access to land and inland waters of the state.”

This would be done by making sure access points were controlled by the state, Bryant said.

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