Riding to wilderness’ rescue

Riding to wilderness' rescue Open letter to John Edzerza, minister of Environment: I am writing to you today about a matter of real concern for myself and, indeed, many Yukon people. Over the past 25 years, we have seen an incredible proliferation in th

Open letter to John Edzerza, minister of Environment:

I am writing to you today about a matter of real concern for myself and, indeed, many Yukon people.

Over the past 25 years, we have seen an incredible proliferation in the number and type of all terrain vehicles (ATVs) being used in our territory.

In the 1980s, when there were relatively few of these machines, their effects on the land were minimal. However, there are several thousand of them in use today, and the impact on the land and wildlife populations has become a significant threat to the environment.

Governments of all political stripes should have acted years ago to manage these impacts, but they did not. It is time to correct this historic mistake with public policy that will protect our territory and provide a legacy of stewardship for future generations.

I have owned an ATV since 1983, and currently have two of them. I am not opposed to the use of ATVs at all, but I am very much opposed to the damage that their misuse does to the environment.

I am an active supporter of a group called Trails Only Yukon Association (TOYA). We are proposing government create a designated trails system throughout Yukon, and back it up with appropriate legislation, enforcement, and education.

This has been started in the Ruby Range, east of Kluane Lake, and should be expanded to include not just hunters, but all ATV users throughout the rest of the territory. This would limit the damage being done to fragile alpine and wetlands, prevent the harassment, displacement, and disturbance of wildlife, and also help to prevent the over-harvest of wildlife in accessed areas.

I think it is worth noting that virtually no private landowner will tolerate ATV enthusiasts riding unrestricted on his or her lands. It begs the question, why is it allowed on our collective lands?

Association organizers would welcome an opportunity to meet with you and share our thinking, but if that is not possible, please consider what I have said, and prepare yourself for the coming public debate on this very important issue.

We would also like to invite you to attend a public meeting we are organizing at Jack Hulland School on May 6, at 7 p.m.

Ken Taylor, TOYA steering committee member

Whitehorse