CARRABASSETT VALLEY — The Carrabassett Valley ATV Club shut down its all-terrain vehicle trails Tuesday after the Penobscot Nation, which owns about half the land in town, erected no trespassing signs on their property.

The federally recognized tribe owns about 24,000 acres in Carrabassett Valley and over the years they have been very kind to allow organizations to use the land, John McCatherin, club treasurer and secretary, said.

Of about 32 miles of the club’s trails, an estimated 28 miles of them are either on Penobscot Nation land or riders have to cross the land to get to another area.

“We’ve only had an ATV club up here for about 10 years,” McCatherin said.

ATV riders became concerned about seeing no trespassing signs on the tribal land, so “we decided to shut the trails down,” McCatherin said Wednesday.

He said the club filed a request to discuss the matter, resolve the situation and get permission to reopen the trails, but because of COVID-19 the tribe’s offices are closed.

McCatherin said he does not believe the issue will be settled by Labor Day weekend. There are only about two more months left to ride this season.

Clubs that have connecting trails, Flagstaff Area ATV Club in the Eustis area, Moose Alley Riders ATV Club in the Solon, Bingham area and Kingfield Quad Runners in the Kingfield area have posted trails that connect to Carrabassett Valley.

“We didn’t want people traveling 45 minutes on the trail and get to Carrabassett Valley and have to turn around because the trail closed,” Edie Dunlap, president of the Flagstaff Area ATV Club, said Wednesday.

They also didn’t want to chance that riders would continue through the posted trails and make matters worse with landowners, she said.

The Carrabassett Valley club has created a couple areas with picnic tables for people to enjoy outings.

“We spend a lot of time and effort with our members and other riders,” McCatherin said, to impress on them to bring anything they bring in back with them to make sure there is no littering or disregard for properties. He said he very seldom sees litter on the trails.

Club members also put in a lot of time and effort to maintain the trails, he said, and more and more families are using the trails around the area, which are very popular.

A variety of businesses get a lot of business from riders, which is a significant economic factor, he said.

Attempts to reach representatives of the Penobscot Nation on Thursday were unsuccessful.


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