DIXFIELD – Four area landowners riled up over abuse of their property and lack of respect by some all-terrain vehicle riders met Wednesday morning with state and local ATV representatives and a Maine warden to remedy the situation.

They also complained about an ATV trail that was rerouted onto a paved Dixfield road, because landowner Freemont Tibbetts closed his property to ATVs and snowmobiles.

Dan Mitchell, president of ATV Maine, conceded to Tibbetts, Tibbetts’ son-in-law Danny McKay, Isadore Brann and Steve Leavitt that they were right about the abuse and lack of respect.

A landowner himself whose property has seen illegal logging and ATV abuse, Mitchell said he and others diligently work to address property abuse by riders. He and Poodunk Snowmobile Club President Jon Holmes of Dixfield said it threatens to undermine their efforts to annually secure landowner permission for both ATV and snowmobile trails.

“The biggest issues in the past were a lack of respect and abuse,” Mitchell said. “To tell you what we’re up against, manufacturers have been selling these things for years and years and nobody was out maintaining the trails.”

Mitchell said he and others formed ATV clubs to try to educate riders to change attitudes and repair or relocate trails. But it’s been an uphill struggle.

Leavitt, Tibbetts and McKay mentioned one such problem that happened over Memorial Day weekend because the ATV trail was routed onto Averill Hill Road.

“There was 25 ATVs come speeding down it doing 65 to 75 mph,” McKay said. “They have no thought for people. They don’t have any respect for people.”

Mitchell said he heard the riders buzzing through the area and caught up to them at George Welch’s Mountain View Campground off Route 142 in Dixfield and told them never to return to Dixfield.

Leavitt then asked why Mitchell’s club, the River Valley Riders, put trail access road signs up along Averill Hill Road, but didn’t erect a stop sign for ATVers where the trail meets the road. Leavitt said it’s a fatal accident waiting to happen.

“Nobody expects to see 25 ATVs on Averill Road,” McKay said.

The landowners also said they have had to repeatedly pick up trash left behind by riders.

“You asked me, can you put a trail across my land, and I said, ‘No,’ because every spring, I’ve had to pick up trash,” Leavitt told Mitchell.

Tibbetts also mentioned a trespassing incident that happened in front of him on his property over the weekend. He said an ATV rider ignored Mitchell’s signs telling riders a stretch of snowmobile trail ITS 82 was closed to off-road use due to soil conditions.

Tibbetts said he photographed the rider and was nearly run over by the man, who popped a wheelie and yelled profanity at him and told him to get out of the way.

That didn’t sit well with Warden Brock Clukey. He asked for and got the photographs to investigate and prosecute the trespasser because the photos showed the ATV’s registration plate.

“Believe you me, we want to hear about anything like this that’s going on,” Clukey said.

“We want respect for landowners and their land and we want to help clubs. You guys do a great job,” he said to Mitchell.

“Trust me, the word’s going to get out,” Clukey said.

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