Forests and Lakes – For People – Forever ®

Mudding Matters (Please Don’t Be a Mudder)

June 24, 2013

Mudding Damage Courtesy of Maine Forest Service

Mudding Damage
Courtesy of Maine Forest Service

It’s rained a lot in Grand Lake Stream this spring, bringing saturated soils (that usually occur in early spring and late fall) into the summer.  Unfortunately, this can lead to a destructive activity known as “mudding”.

Mudding is the practice of driving ATVs and off-road vehicles (ORVs) through wet fields, streams, lake shores, or other muddy areas, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Spinning tires and throwing up mud is pretty much the whole point of the activity.

This behavior has a wide range of deleterious results on Maine’s lakes and woods. Mudding can affect our lakes and streams, the quality of which is the cornerstone of many livelihoods in the Downeast region. As mudding rips up vegetation and protective leaf litter, it destroys the vital ability of plants and soils  to trap and filter water.  Mudding increases both the amount and the rate of run-off into our prized trout streams and lakes. Water moving quickly over areas with little or no vegetation picks up soil and deposits it in waterways.  This smothers spawning grounds, muddies waterways, and causes our lakes to become both warmer and more plagued with algae. Stinking, warm, muddy waters are no fisherman’s paradise!

Not only are our forest floors, lakes, streams and fish stocks damaged, but mudding also disrupts the ability of Maine’s iconic common loon to feed. As sight predators, loons require clear lakes. Pressured by lead and mercury poisoning, the loons’s range has  already retracted in much of New England. Mudding adds another pressure on these creatures whose calls embody the sound of the northern lakes.

Loon on Nest

Loon on Nest

Because it destroys wildlife habitat, mudding is prohibited on Downeast Lakes Land Trust managed properties as outlined in our ATV use policy (mudding is also often illegal under Maine law). Responsible ATV users are welcome on the property, but encouraged to avoid wet trails.  If you are concerned about improper ATV use on DLLT managed lands,please contact us at 201-796-2100 or call the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777.

Fortunately, the great majority of users of the forest are responsible, and we have native brook trout streams and famously grand lakes. Thank you for helping protect these extraordinary and valuable resources.