Copyright 1996-2015
The Maine Snowmobile Association

When contacting elected officials, please be polite and concise. Note the legislation about which you are communicating, make your point, and thank them in advance for any support or consideration they give to your concerns. An attitude of "disagreeing without being disagreeable" will reflect well on the association and make your comments more powerful.

                 MSA News & Snowmobiling Issues

MSA Annual Meeting
Issues in the Sport
Park supporters admit defeat by pursuing monument plan

MSA Annual Meeting set for April 16
The MSA Annual Meeting and Luncheon is set for Saturday, April 16 in the spacious Alfond Dining Hall at the Pine Tree Camp on the shores of North Pond in Rome.
Make plans to attend! It' s a great opportunity to visit with snowmobilers from across the state, have a nice lunch in a very pleasant setting overlooking the lake, and celebrate some of the people who help to make snowmobiling in Maine a premiere experience.
The day will begin with a short Executive Committee Meeting at 9:30a.m. The Directors Annual Meeting is scheduled for 10a.m. Approval of the association annual budget, the election of MSA officers and presentation of membership recruitment awards (the Top 10 Clubs ) will be on the morning agenda. A luncheon ($12) prepared by the PTC will follow. Please let the MSA office know how many of your members plan to attend: 207-622-6983, email. MSA Annual Awards will be presented after lunch.
The MSA Pot O' Gold will be drawn from the names of the clubs that have one of their MSA directors or alternates present at the annual meeting. It could be your club that wins the $200 pot! There will also be a 50/50 and a silent auction fundraiser. To donate an item to the auction, contact Aleta Rioux, 207-966-3699. All MSA members are welcome at the annual meeting. Hope to see you there!

Issues in the Sport
Quick Work at the Legislature
The winter of 2015-16 is probably the craziest season that anyone can remember. After a normal fall, the winter has been a series of fits and starts, with cold and a little snow followed by days of spring-like conditions. Maine clubs have done a remarkable job in maintaining what little is out there, and for much of the season riding, if you were willing to travel, has been available and good. Not surprisingly, registrations have followed the course of the weather and as of the end of January were down about 25% across the board. IF&W reported 32,458 resident and 8,156 non-resident registrations as of February 7. At the same date last year, there were 42,042 resident and 10,899 non-resident registrations. It will likely be early summer before final numbers are available, and reasonably strong traffic was seen in several regions during the important February vacation week. Registrations may also see a boost from the complete lack of snow in neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont. In several published reports the end of February, both those states were The winter of 2016 is starting to look like another opportunity to get some riding in as the few legislative items facing snowmobilers are being dealt with early and quickly.
On January 26 the Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee held a public hearing on LD-1485, "An Act To Allow the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands To Transfer Ownership of Snowmobile Trail Maintenance Equipment to Incorporated Nonprofit Snowmobile Clubs," sponsored by Rep. Russell Black of Wilton.
This bill authorizes the Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands to transfer ownership of state-owned snowmobile trail maintenance equipment to incorporated nonprofit snowmobile clubs for the maintenance of snowmobile trail systems that were maintained by the state. The transfer is the result of negotiations between the Snowmobile Program and local clubs to assume the management of three of the four trail systems that had previously been managed by the state in Evergreen Valley, Frye Mountain and Beddington.
There was no opposition at the public hearing on January 26, and speaking in favor of the bill were the MSA, DACF, and two of the three clubs involved with the transition.
It appears the Committee will vote to recommend passage at the work session in early February, with the likely possible amendment being a requirement that the state hold an interest in the machines for four years, similar to equipment purchased through the Capital Equipment Grant Program.
On February 9 the Transportation Committee will hear LD-1567, "An Act To Amend the Laws Regarding the Operation of an All-terrain Vehicle or Snowmobile on a Controlled Access Highway," sponsored by Rep. Bob Saucier of Presque Isle. This is an after-the-deadline bill that was approved for submission by the Legislative Council. It allows the Commissioner of Transportation to permit the construction of all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile trails within the right-of-way limits of controlled access highways in areas of new construction. It also permits the operation of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles on those trail segments. This bill was a result of concerns that motorized recreation trails could be adversely affected by the scheduled construction of the Route 1 bypass around the city of Presque Isle. The change in the law will allow access during the construction period and after the bypass is completed, subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Transportation.
At this time, it appears that these will be the only bills the MSA will be addressing during this short session which is expected to end in mid-April. The MSA will be continuing to monitor legislative activity for any other issues that may come up. Things occasionally happen quickly at the State House, and members can keep up to date by signing up for the MSA e-mail alert list.

Free Weekend with New Brunswick February 12 - 14
The first free weekend with New Brunswick and Maine will be February 12-14. During those three days, riders legally registered in Maine will be able to ride in New Brunswick, and New Brunswick residents will be able to enjoy the same privilege in Maine. The weekend is the result of legislation sponsored by Rep. Dan Martin of Sinclair passed last spring. The bill provided for a free weekend with Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec, but to date Quebec has chosen to not participate in the event. In order to participate, Maine riders must visit the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs website at and complete a simple form that can be printed out. You must have this form in your possession in order to ride in New Brunswick, along with proof of liability insurance in an amount of no less than $200,000.
It is hoped that the free weekend will spur increased cross-border traffic to help increase sales of registrations and trail passes on both sides of the border as well as build business for local lodges, motels restaurants and gas stations.

Park supporters admit defeat by pursuing monument plan
Supporters of a Maine woods national park have confirmed that they are now pursuing a national monument designation by President Obama as a path to creating a national park on land owned by Roxanne Quimby's Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. (EPI).
The monument designation, which can be accomplished by a presidential executive order under the Antiquities Act, would bypass the public process of creating a park through congressional action. Maine's congressional delegation has refused to introduce legislation to create the park, and with the exception of first district Rep. Chellie Pingree, have voiced varying degrees of opposition to the park.
The move follows crushing defeats in non-binding advisory votes in East Millinocket and Medway in June, and vocal opposition from groups like Maine Snowmobile Association, Maine Woods Coalition and the Maine Forest Products Council. In addition, over 225 Maine businesses ranging from Cianbro to small family stores have signed on a list of Maine businesses opposed to the park. In recent conversations with staffers from Maine's delegations, EPI president Lucas St. Clair has expressed frustration at the delegation' s refusal to introduce legislation to create the park. It is generally acknowledged in Congress that if the bill doesn't have the support of the state's delegation, it is dead in the water. In a recent interview, St. Clair said that the monument designation is not their preferred path, but may be the only one that exists for the park. Since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906, presidents have designated 145 national monuments. Obama has designated 17 in the past seven years and is expected to name several more in the final year of his administration.
The lack of public participation in the monument designation is frustrating to many people, and in late September the Maine Snowmobile Association filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Dept. of the Interior in an attempt to gain more information. The initial response included dozens of e-mails about setting up meetings between EPI and DOI leadership, but no details of the meetings themselves. Work to gain more information is ongoing.
Governor LePage expressed his opposition to monument designations in a strongly worded letter to Obama and Maine's Congressional delegation in August regarding plans to create a marine national monument at Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine. Three members of Maine's congressional delegation have also issued a statement expressing concern with the potential of a monument designation in the Maine woods.
In any case, whatever happens with a monument designation is likely to happen quickly. Obama has slightly more than a year left in office, and 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which has been mentioned often in statements by Quimby and St. Clair. MSA members are strongly encouraged to write to their members of congress and ask them to stand firm in their opposition to a park.
Last summer, after residents of the Katahdin Area registered a resounding "NO!" to a national park in their backyard, members of the Maine Woods Coalition called upon park proponents to give up the push for a park, move on and work towards real economic progress in rural Maine. Click the links to read the press release and letter to Roxanne Quimby and Lucas St Clair.
Coalition Press release, Letter to Quimby and St Clair

Snowmobile Program Report Presented
The Report of the Internal Review of the Snowmobile Program by Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, was presented to the Legislature's ACF Committee in early January. This study was initiated as a result of legislation introduced by the MSA last winter. We believe that the report and recommendations will help increase transparency and equity within the program and help clubs statewide as we move forward. View the report.