As with so many situations, I suspect this is one where the 20% rule applies: 20% of the people do 80% of the damage. The point though is that this minority, however small, is doing a lot of damage. Especially in the wilder parts of the west, regulation and restriction are often frowned upon. However, not many in our towns and cities would defend the right of the graffiti artist to spray-paint on public buildings - and those, at least, can be cleaned up.
Here's one person's illustrated account and opinion of wilderness abuse.
The Mount Murray hiking trail has been used by skiers and hikers for 75 years, accessing this beautiful alpine area overlooking the Bowron Mountains. Now quad riders have turned the small hiking path up the side of Jubilee Creek into a vegetation-free mud bog, churning the soil right up to the alpine. Where their route was impeded by trees, they simply cut them down to allow easy access for their machines. Pristine wilderness, hundreds of years of biological process, and one of the few remaining un-roaded wilderness has been destroyed, perhaps permanently.
A once-beautiful and green, steep alpine meadow, destroyed in less than a minute, and destined to vanish because of the erosive quality of the deep ruts now running its length.
A hiker at the end of the marked hiking trail, where it enters the un-tracked meadows. For 45 years (according to the growth rings) hikers have passed this innocuous tree as it struggled to establish itself in the alpine. It, and a dozen others like it, fell victim to chainsaws and axes carried by the quads.
New ruts in the meadow created by the quads. Runoff has already eroded some of the rich but delicate soil layer, exposing bedrock. Tree roots have been debarked by spinning tires.
A quad track, approximately eight feet south of the hiking trail, through virgin, wet meadow. The hiker is standing up to his knee in rut and exposed muck. A huge chunk of sod lies dead in the right front corner of the picture, torn out by spinning tires.
The following article appeared in the July 2011 edition of the Deka Lake and District Ratepayers Association newsletter….
Even more than boating, use of these recreational vehicles has been increasing rapidly over the recent years. With this increase in popularity, comes an increasing source of annoyance on the part of many residents to the inappropriate and inconsiderate, not to mention, dangerous use of these vehicles. This fact, not fiction, has prompted the Ministries of Transportation and of Forestry to undertake a program of education on the proper, safe and legal use of these and other off-road vehicles.
It is generally recognized that the worst offenders are those vacationers from the big city who feel that they are up here in the 'bush', and that there are no rules. '
Alcohol 'plays a big' role in ATV accidents. In fact, all fatalities involve alcohol;' 90% of accidents occur within the first 10 hours of driving experience and where accidents occur is pretty well evenly divided between public roads, forest service roads, and on the trails.
BC has not yet enacted legislation covering the operation and use of ATVs, including dirt bikes, but this is expected by the fall of 2012. Not soon enough for many of us. The more important provisions will include licensing and registration; probably helmets, lights and seat belts, and that those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult . ATVs are not road vehicles! In many cases, it is necessary to proceed along a short stretch of road to get to the trails, of which we have many kilometers. No one will object if you proceed slowly along the edge of the road. What is exceedingly annoying, not to mention dangerous, is the practice by primarily young people, on machines not always appropriate for their size, of racing up, down and around our streets. Where are you, Parents ??
You may wonder why Forestry is involved. Well, they monitor use of forest service roads, where many of the same rules that govern public roads apply . These are haulage roads ! If you &/or a group of people are roaring up one of these roads and you should meet a loaded logging truck, it's not hard to visualize the outcome! They also have a responsibility to protect the environment and irresponsible ATVers are responsible for a great deal of damage to sensitive ecosystems, especially to grasslands and wet lands. Once destroyed, these areas can take decades to regenerate, and in the meantime, many species have lost their homes and their ability to survive. There are substantial fines, up to $100,000, and possible jail time that can be levied for such destructive behaviour.
Guide for safe ATV use:
- Do not consume alcohol
- Have a machine suited to age, weight and experience
- Wear a helmet
- Do not allow children under 16 to ride unsupervised
- Stay on the trails. If necessary to use the roadway for a short distance, travel slowly and along the edge.
- Do not travel on trails that exceed your skill level
- Never travel alone or without some emergency supplies.
- Ride responsibly
Off Road Vehicle Management Strategy: "The Grasslands Conservation Council of BC is working proactively to inform government and other interest groups about the impacts of off-road vehicles (ORVs) and the urgent need to put in place an effective management system, including licensing and registration, so people can be held accountable when they use their off-road vehicles in closed areas or in a manner damaging to the environment. The need for improved planning and management of ORV use and the need for an effective educational process are stressed as a means to achieve environmentally responsible use of these off-road vehicles."
Coalition for Licensing and Registration of Off-Road Vehicles
ATVs and the Alpine Northword Magazine
March 16, 2007: Victoria brings in hefty penalty for mud-boggers.