Trails only: fact and fiction

Trails only: fact and fiction There seem to be some interesting ideas and thoughts circulating in the ATV debate. Additional information on some of these issues is available at the websites noted below. 1) BC has regulations that penalize those who caus

There seem to be some interesting ideas and thoughts circulating in the ATV debate.

Additional information on some of these issues is available at the websites noted below.

1) BC has regulations that penalize those who cause environmental damage.

On May 31, 2007, BC amended the Forests and Range Act in a specific effort to combat mud bogging on Crown land. Penalties up to $100,000 for causing environmental damage can be assessed.

However, it may be misleading to say this is how BC deals with the ATV issue. Trails Strategy for British Columbia, an initiative currently being implemented, recommends 17 other specific actions that would ensure a sustainable trail network. These include the designation of trails for specific uses and a province-wide trail map (http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/about/provincial-trail-strategy.aspx). Expect to see other announcements as the strategy develops.

In addition to this, on November 10, 2009, BC announced new regulations implementing mandatory helmet use, registration and licensing for all off-road vehicles, as well as liability insurance for most.

2)Hikers disturb wildlife too.

This is true. A habitat study (Wisdom 2004) found that elk tolerated hikers to within 500 feet, whereas they moved when off-road vehicles came within 2,000 feet. Another study (Vieira 2000) found elk move twice as far from off-road vehicle disturbance as from pedestrian disturbance.

Consider that an average hiker may put on five to 10 miles in a day, whereas an off-road vehicle would put on many times that. When you do the math the difference in total disturbance in astounding (http://www.wildlandscpr.org).

3)Most Yukoners do not want anything done.

Surveys focusing on backcountry access and trails have been conducted in the Yukon. The summary of results is as follows with the year and proportion of those desiring action:

1981 85.6 per cent

1997 79 per cent

2008 88 per cent

2010 71 per cent

(16 per cent opposed, 13 per cent no opinion. More info at www.trailsonly.ca).

4) Why have politicians of all three main parties done nothing while they were in power even though surveys show the majority wants something done?

Good question. Ask your politician why they have done nothing. One would think if it were desired by a large majority of the population, it would be not only a wise political move, but also the right thing to do. Is doing nothing still an option?

5)Horses do just as much damage as an ATV.

Horses do leave tracks and there are horse trails in many valleys. There are currently an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 ATVs in the territory. Are there 4,000 to 5,000 horses making regular, extended trips into the backcountry?

This does not belittle the issue but maybe it needs to be kept in perspective.

Remember, there are only a few days left to fill in the Safe Operation and Use of Off-road Vehicles Opinion Survey.

A link can be found at

www.trailsonly.ca.

Dennis Peters

Trails Only Yukon Association