GSM Testifies in Favor of LD 1058: “Resolve, To Create a Mitigation Fund for Damage Caused by Unauthorized All-terrain Vehicle Use on Private Land”

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LD 1058,

“Resolve, To Create a Mitigation Fund for Damage Caused by Unauthorized All-terrain Vehicle Use on Private Land”

April 25, 2011

Senator Martin, Representative Davis and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives to present this testimony at today’s Public Hearing for LD 1058.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time protecting our state’s unique character. The viability of the natural resource sector is key to both Maine’s economy and our quality of place. GrowSmart Maine strongly supports efforts to alleviate tensions between Maine's landowners and responsible outdoor recreationists. As is highlighted in a recent report generated by joint effort between SAM and SWOAM, “the tradition of private landowners allowing public use of their lands is a key component of Maine's quality of place. The efforts outlined in this legislation pro-actively address challenges related to unauthorized use by some ATVers.” Requiring the Departments of Conservation and Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to convene a study group to develop recommendations to establish a mitigation fund for damage caused by unauthorized ATV usage is a prudent and warranted first step in addressing this issue.

In addition, I would like to reemphasize the fact that the need for the proposed mitigation fund is well established and was recommended in 2003 by an ATV Task Force authorized by Executive Order by Governor Baldacci:

4.Establish a damage mitigation fund with clear eligibility guidelines to repair environmental damage or to reimburse landowners for damage to crops, trees or orchard caused by ATV riders, when those riders cannot be identified or prosecuted.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s enthusiastic support for LD 1058.