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Ken Umbarger, president of the Okanagan Trail Riders Association, says the announcement is a good first step. File photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet
Ken Umbarger, president of the Okanagan Trail Riders Association, says the announcement is a good first step. File photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet

Motorized trail users warned

by - Story: 53619


Random patrols of environmentally sensitive areas will be taking place across the Thompson-Okanagan this spring and the president of a local trail rider's group says it's about time.

Minister of Forests and Range, Pat Bell, announced Tuesday that people found damaging sensitive areas may be issued a ticket of $575 or face penalties of up to $100,000.

"ATV, 4X4 and dirt-bike use increases from April to October, and riders should be prepared for a trip that brings no harm to themselves or the environment," says Bell.

"Most people value the experience and respect the land they are recreating on, but those who cause environmental damage will be held accountable."

He says environmentally sensitive areas such as grasslands, wetlands, streams, hillsides and alpine lands provide critical habitat for a wide range of plants and animals, but can suffer long-term damage from a single use of a motorized vehicle.

“Crown land near Clearwater, Kamloops, Kelowna, Merritt, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Vernon will be patrolled throughout the spring, summer and fall. Patrols will be both random, and target sites that have been damaged by off-road motorized vehicles in recent years.“

Bell says the public is urged to respect the environment and stay on authorized roads, trails and designated motorized vehicle areas.

Ken Umbarger, president of the Okanagan Trail Riders Association, says the announcement is a good first step.

“This enforcement is very welcome. Along with enforcement, the province needs to develop sustainable infrastructure for motorized recreational vehicles," says Umbarger.

He says OTRA is lucky in that they have a rec site which has been providing education for trail users for years.

"We can expect that our users up there will have some bases for knowing what's right and wrong. We also have some sustainable trails for people to ride on and that's not the case in other parts of the province."

Umbarger says the announcement of more enforcement is encouraging, but there also needs to be education about proper trail use.

"You put the cart before the horse if you don't have education to go with the enforcement. We've been asking for more enforcement in our areas, such as around Bear Creek, for years. In our case, we have been educating, so the enforcement is really welcome."

All motor vehicle operators on Forest Service roads must have a valid driver's licence for the vehicle they are driving and must also carry a minimum of $200,000 third-party liability insurance, available through insurance agents.

Umbarger says riders can save up to half the cost of the liability insurance by becoming members of the OTRA.


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