ROXBURY — On hearing reports about severe damage to area all-terrain vehicle trails from heavy rain in the past two weeks, Roxbury ATV Riders president and trail master Mike Worthley worried about his club’s 220 miles of trail.

Worthley, who works nights at Rumford’s NewPage paper mill, started a three-week vacation on Friday, every day of which will see him out repairing any damaged sections of club trails in the River Valley area.

“We’ve had three to four guys in my club out weekly with hoes and shovels getting water off the trails,” after a month and a half of rain falling daily, Worthley said.

On Friday afternoon, he decided to check the club’s 27-mile loop trail. That’s what will be used for the club’s third annual ATV Christmas in July Toy Run on Saturday, July 18.

It leaves at 10 a.m. from Grimaldi Field in Andover and returns there.

The important charity run, on which riders bring either an unwrapped toy in a plastic bag or a cash donation, benefits children and families in Andover, Bethel, Byron, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, Roxbury and Rumford.

Worthley said there were 215 participants last year. “So this year, we advertised across the state,” he said. “I’d love to have 400 come.”

Driving his Kawasaki T-Rex 750 side-by-side ATV, he quickly entered the trail system from his backyard off Route 120 in Roxbury.

“We get municipal grants to fix our trails, so it’s just a matter of time to get the trails dried out,” said Worthley, who is also a Roxbury selectman.

Due to last year’s spring and summer rains, the club spent $45,000 repairing damaged trails.
“That’s more than the town of Roxbury approves for their roads,” he said.

This year, the club will get a $25,000 grant from the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.

The cost-share ratio is 70 percent state, 30 percent in-kind work from registered ATV clubs.

Last year, the club got a $15,000 grant, then more rain fell and destroyed two trails. Worthley got a $5,000 grant, but that wasn’t nearly enough.

Despite donations and yearly club dues, he says it’s an annual struggle to get adequate funding to repair weather-damaged trails, the use of which bring in a lot of money at local businesses.

“Usually, the only thing we have problems with are beavers,” he said.

Beavers clog trail culverts in boggy areas with mud and sticks. Rainfall then causes dammed water to overflow and erode the trail, creating a muddy, rock-strewn mess.

Rain also beats away the dirt, leaving trails littered with rocks in several sections. The big ones get taken out by hired excavator operators; the smaller stones are left to keep remaining trail dirt intact.

Several large puddles covered sections of the trail.

The 27-mile loop passes through a beautiful stretch of hardwoods and softwoods, including some areas that have never been cut over, Worthley said.

There are also several scenic views and a great variety of terrain on which to ride.

“We have such an assortment — dust, mud, water, rocks, gravel — and that’s why a lot of people come here,” he said.

After crossing South Arm Road, Worthley drove onto the Devil’s Den Trail, which washed out so badly a few years ago club members had to install 17 water bars (dug ditches across the trail) for drainage. Now, they must add some crushed rock.

“Snowmobile clubs, when they get a washout, they can just fill it in with snow,” Worthley said. “We get a washout, we have to fill it in with gravel.”

He soon arrived at just such a washout, except this one stretched for a quarter-mile.

“The day we had all that rain, it was like a river coming right down here, and now it looks like a river bed,” Worthley said. “It used to be all nice dirt, and now it’s all washed out.”

Gamely, he started slowly driving through it and said, “We’ll have to put a few culverts in.” Then, bang! the ATV’s front end shuddered as it hit a buried rock, slid over it and, bang! went the back end, prompting Worthley to sigh, then add, “And pull out some rocks.”

“I’ll make a few calls when I get home and see if I can get a tractor lined up to fix this,” he added.

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