WELD — A May 30 post seen on the You Know you’re From Weld, Maine if… Facebook page shared a public service announcement about the ATV trail at Mt. Blue State Park not opening this season and being closed indefinitely.

“Unfortunately, the trails have taken heavy damage, and they have been deemed unsafe for riding,” the post from Casey Smedberg, park manager continued. “Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. For any questions, please call us at Mount Blue State Park: 207-585-2347. FMI: statewide ATV and multi-use trails.”

The Franklin Journal reached out to Smedberg on Monday, June 3, to obtain additional information about the closure, what led to it and plans for restoring the trails. She responded June 4 indicating she was not the only entity involved in the decision and needed to reach out to the other entities involved in order to share the most accurate, up to date information. She was off until Friday when she contacted others at the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Later Friday Brian Bronson, supervisor of the Off Road Recreational Vehicle Program through the bureau provided answers to questions submitted by The Franklin Journal.

The ATV trail received damage from both the late June and December storms last year, but was already closed prior to those storms, he noted.

Bronson said the quote received to upgrade the ATV trail to handle the new weight and width standard and larger side by sides was approximately $150,000.

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“Given the lack of connectivity to trails in the region there is no plan to repair and reopen the ATV trail unless they start a local ATV club to take it over,” Bronson noted. “Most people are looking to ride 80-100 miles a day so a 20 mile loop doesn’t cut it and the Governor’s ATV Task Force stipulated we were to concentrate on main artery connector trails.”

The fact the trail is no longer a through route due to landowner closures, he stated. That, combined with the anticipated cost to rehabilitate the trail to handle new ATV standards on top of the relatively little use is what led to the decision to close it, Bronson noted.

We have ATV trails that get 10 times the use on a weekend that Mt. Blue ATV trail received in the entire season, he stressed. “We must use the ATV funding efficiently given all the trail damages that exist, Bronson said. “We have received over five million dollars in grant requests already this year and they are still coming in. There are many miles of main artery trails that are disconnected because of last year’s storms, and we are working to try and find funding to repair them. Current estimated shortfall is approximately two million dollars.”

Bronson noted at last count there are at least 19 trail bridges out and several large washouts in Franklin County alone. “We are working with ATV and snowmobile clubs and landowners to try and find solutions so trail connections can be restored but it will take months if not years to repair everything,” he added.

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