Respect the outdoors

The Grand Forks ATV Club is hoping to continue to be proactive and provide as much education as possible.

An example of environmental damage

With spring arriving early this year, the Morrissey Creek staging area is seeing lots of use. Unfortunately, not all those using the area are treating it with respect.

The Grand Forks ATV Club is hoping to continue to be proactive and provide as much education as possible to encourage all multi-users who use the area to be respectful of property owners, the environment and to stay on the trails.

“The Morrissey Creek staging area is a multi-use trails project and it’s been a huge success,” said Doug Zorn, vice-president of the ATV club. “If you’re up there on the weekend you’ve seen 25-50 people with young families who’ve really respected the area.”

Zorn said it’s great how families are using the kiosks for information, and the picnic tables and washrooms.

“Unfortunately, there are a few folks who have gone up but not stayed on the trails. They’ve gone on Crown land. What happens on Crown land is that being a southern slope, it gets eroded, trails get put in, and when we have a rain event it just washes out and creates a mud problem (and the spreading of noxious weeds).”

Zorn added that most of the people who regularly use the trails are great.

“Ninety per cent of the people stay on the trails, hike, bike, horseback ride, motorcycle and quad in the right and correct area. Unfortunately, there are a few that don’t respect the area.”

Zorn said the ATV club has reached out to such agencies and groups as the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Parks and Recreation, Ministry of Environment and the RCMP to discuss options.

“We would like to have education programs,” he said. “Some of the options include ticketing people for damaging the environment. But we’d like to go with the education program first because we feel that people in their hearts want to do the right thing and that’s its just a few of them that are ruining it for the rest of us.”

Zorn said they are also looking at having biologists up in the staging area to talk to people.

New off-road licensing regulations will make enforcement of those going off-road much easier, said Connie Herman, Natural Resource Officer, Kootenay/Boundary Region, Compliance and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Grand Forks Field Office.

“It’s a way to track people for the damages and responsibility,” she said.

The Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act has been administered in stages and will fully come into effect this June.

The ORV act covers snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs or quads), off-road motorcycles, side-by-sides and dual purpose on-highway vehicles such as jeeps, trucks and SUVs. The act for the most part applies only to Crown land—private land will be exempt with a few exceptions.

“Modernizing the registration scheme will help enforcement officers better identify irresponsible ORV riders who endanger others, damage the environment or harm animals,” said Herman. “In addition, it will help enforcement officers track stolen vehicles since ICBC’s registration data would be available to officers 24/7.”

The minimum fine for violation of the ORV Act is set at $575, while the maximum fine is $100,000.