Fresh tracks on ATV issue

Fresh tracks on ATV issue Open letter to the Select Committee on the Safe Operation and Use of Off-road Vehicles: The issue of ATV use in the Yukon has been discussed and debated for many years. Having heard the various positions, I would like to share a

Open letter to the Select Committee on the Safe Operation and Use of Off-road Vehicles:

The issue of ATV use in the Yukon has been discussed and debated for many years. Having heard the various positions, I would like to share an experience a friend and I had in 2008, make a couple of points and ask a couple of questions.

My hunting partner and I left our vehicle at the end of a mining road and walked into the mountains for two days. On the fourth day we headed back to our truck.

Much to our surprise we were greeted by fresh Argo tracks at the kolle 300 feet over our camp, which had been situated at about 6100 feet in prime sheep habitat.

On our 20-kilometre hike back to the truck, we crossed the Argo track many times and stopped by the camp of the owners to chat. The three friendly fellows had two Argos in camp and when we asked about the route they had taken to get there, they told us it was up the old horse trail that my partner and I were using. They then asked us to not tell anyone about their route … kind of like a little secret.

An hour after leaving the camp we came to a 200-foot hill down to a lake that looked as though a bulldozer had been down it. Trees and willows were broken, the moss was worn away and bare mineral soil exposed.

Their little secret access would clearly be visible from the air and if high resolution photographs are added to Google Earth I know I’ll be able to see it there … as will everybody else who looks.

Pretty tough to keep that a secret.

In 2009, my hunting partner and I saw two Argos, three guys and the same tent 10 kilometres, by horse trail, farther into that same country.

My first point is, the argument the Yukon has only 35,000 people, so couldn’t possibly be overrun with ATVs, is false.

While we have relatively few people compared to other jurisdictions that have established various regulations and restrictions, we also have relatively few access points. What happens is that all users (hikers, bikers, horse-users, ATV users) end up starting from the same places.

The result is that the non-motorized users simply have fewer and fewer places to go that ATV users can’t get to.

Which prompts a question: While ATV users frequently refer to their rights to use their machines, what will the Yukon government do to protect the rights of non-ATV users to ensure they have places to go where they won’t be passed on a trail by a machine or see a machine on a distant ridge?

My concern is that even to access wilderness on foot we will all need to get an ATV to get to the end of the road, and push the “end of the road” farther and farther. I wonder where that road will end.

My second point is that essentially every other jurisdiction in North America has placed regulations/restrictions on ATV use and access. This invariably results from sober reflection and as a reaction to damage done, either to habitat, wildlife populations and, in some cases, the simple sense of wilderness being lost.

The population of the Yukon has grown in recent decades and all indications are that it will continue to grow.

I would simply hope the “last frontier” mindset will be replaced by a responsible, forward-thinking mindset.

Which prompts a second question: Will the Yukon government learn from the mistakes and lessons learned from across the continent and regulate/restrict ATV access before the landscape suffers further unnecessary damage; before wildlife populations get pushed farther back and to their limits; before the sense of wilderness that draws and keeps so many of us here is gone?

For the record, I am not against the use of ATVs. They play an important role in allowing people to access places, do their jobs and experience the landscape.

I do, however, think existing trails should be used to the greatest extent possible, off-trail use limited to things like retrieving game and certain industry- related uses (i.e. exploration), and that sensitive habitats and wildlife species should be protected from the disturbance created from high levels of human/machine activity (i.e. alpine areas and associated sheep and caribou habitats).

There are many other arguments and positions to be made, but I will limit mine to those above.

Thank you for reading about my experience and hearing my questions. I would welcome a response and consideration of my views as this issue moves forward and towards a resolution.

Richard Cherepak

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read