ATVers warned to stay on trails in West Country

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are warning off-highway vehicle drivers to stay on trails designated for their all-terrain vehicles and off-road bikes.

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are warning off-highway vehicle drivers to stay on trails designated for their all-terrain vehicles and off-road bikes.

The same goes for Jeeps and monster trucks unlawfully driven through forests and waterways.

“If there are no trails, they shouldn’t be out there. What they should be doing is staying on hard-path trails and not ripping through the bush and knocking everything down and going through the muskegs, damaging terrain,” said RCMP Cpl. Wayne Howse on Wednesday.

“We’ve had issues of them driving in rivers and creeks.”

He said the banks of Vetch Creek located south of Rocky is badly eroded from off-highway vehicle use. The creek is now currently closed.

Clearwater River has also seen a lot of vehicle traffic.

“Unfortunately, a lot of these people feel like the Clearwater River is their personal wash bay. We’ve repeatedly had calls about people driving right down the middle of the rivers. There’s no purpose to be driving in there. It’s fish habitat. Stay out.”

He said last year a full-sized pickup truck was driven right through the spawning bed areas of Clearwater River. The driver was fined $2,000.

People will also ignore the no trespassing signs on logging and well site roads.

“People are still going in there setting up their RVs next to H2S gas sites. It’s quite common. You would not believe the amount of people that find anywhere they can to set up.”

He said this week three people pleaded guilty and were fined between $810 and $1,000 for ignoring no trespassing signs on Falls Creek Road last August. A contractor for a local logging company was working on the private road with heavy equipment when three men drove down the road despite many posted no trespassing signs.

A verbal argument took place when they told the worker to move the equipment so they could continue driving down the road. The men left, but were seen in the area the following day.

Howse said the two most recent convictions concerning off-highway vehicles were due to public complaints.

“We have eyes and ears out here, not only the police. A lot of civilians have had enough of the activity.”

Members of the public are encouraged to take photos when it is safe to do so and record licence plate numbers. Complaints can be made to the police or Report a Poacher, at 1-800-642-3800, because Fish and Wildlife officers also deal with land issues, he said.

Howse said fewer off-highway vehicles have been in the West Country so far this year because restrictions on the vehicles due to the threat of wildfires.

“But that could change in an instant. We get a lot of rain.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com