Off-road vehicle users are being encouraged to help protect critical wildlife habitat by staying out of sensitive ecosystems such as wetlands, streams, grasslands and alpine areas, or risk enforcement actions.
Under the Forest and Range Practices Act it is illegal for people to cause environmental damage on Crown land, said Brennan Clarke, Public Affairs Officer for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Clarke says that those who cause damage to an ecosystem, such as damage caused by motorized vehicles, may face enforcement ranging from warnings to violation tickets that carry a $575 fine. More serious cases of damage could lead to penalties of up to $100,000 and/or a year in jail.
“Throughout August, provincial natural resource officers will be doing random inspections at known off-roading sites including but not limited to the Seaton Basin meadows, the Hunter Basin Road area and the McKendrick snowmobile trail from Dome cabin to Mount McKendrick,” said Clarke.
“The goal of these inspections is to encourage safe and responsible recreation and to educate the public about the rules. The ministry takes non-compliance very seriously and natural resource officers will be looking for individuals and groups that are not adhering to the rules and regulations.”
“Irresponsible off-road vehicle use in alpine, grassland or wetland areas can disturb soil and destroy plants, risk watershed and water source quality, threaten or kill birds and animals, and introduce invasive plants that displace native vegetation that wildlife rely on.
“The public is encouraged to help protect essential habitat by operating off-highway vehicles only on managed and designated trails and roads, and never building new trails.
“While travelling on a Forest Service road, operators of all-terrain vehicles are required to hold a valid driver’s licence, carry a minimum of $200,000 third-party liability insurance and wear safety helmets.
“The public is asked to report suspicious activities and environmental damage to authorities, including a local forest district office, the Report All Poachers and Polluters Program at 1-877-952-7277 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.”
ATVs have left trails of wrecked alpine on the non-motorized area of Morice Mountain. The east side of Morice Mountain is non-motorized, and Frank McDonald, non-motorized representative on the 2007 Morice Land and Resource Management Plan, says it is part of only two percent of the Morice district area which is non-motorized.