When it comes to entering private property, Maine operates under a presumed consent law. If land is not posted, then one may presume it is legal to enter. This is a privilege that many of us enjoy but it comes with a responsibility to treat other’s property with respect.
The Boothbay Region Water District owns land within the Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake watersheds for both essential infrastructure and to protect water quality. Because we know that land in a natural state provides the best water quality protection, most of the Water District’s holdings are for conservation. We aim to safeguard drinking water quality by protecting streams, forests and wetlands in key areas of the watersheds. While conservation is our number one goal for these lands, we also recognize they offer recreation and hunting opportunities to the community. Because of this, our conservation lands are open to public access.
Over the last few years, we have known people were operating ATVs on Water District property. These riders were respectful, and our property was not damaged. In the past year, ATV use on our and adjacent properties has greatly increased. When we walked Water District conservation properties adjacent to Adams Pond this week, we found a disturbing amount of destruction caused by reckless ATV use. Streambeds have been torn up and large areas of land have been chewed up and now are eroding or prone to erosion. Before ATV use, these areas were stable and vegetated. Now because of reckless ATV use, runoff from bare and disturbed soil and streambeds is carrying sediment directly to Adams Pond. This is a situation that we cannot allow to continue.
Because of the destruction caused by ATV users, we want to inform the community that no ATV use is allowed on Water District property. Consistent with state law, we will be posting our properties to prohibit ATV use. We will also work to close off access points and to restore disturbed areas. Anyone who continues to operate ATVs on Water District property will do so in violation of criminal trespass laws.
We are discouraged by the wanton disregard of private property, particularly so close to the public water supply, and the time and effort it will take to restore habitats and prevent ATVs from entering.
While ATVs are no longer allowed on Water District properties, all other non-motorized public access is still welcome. Please respect the land and other users.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me or Sue Mello at 207-633-4723.