A recent mud bogging incident that caused heavy damage has prompted a call from the North Columbia Environmental Society to ban motorized recreation on theColumbia River Flats.
In a letter to Revelstoke council and the Loni Parker, the Rural Revelstoke director, the local environmental group outlined numerous infractions in the Upper Arrow Lakes Drawdown Zone — locally known as The Flats.
Of biggest concern was a mud bogging incident that required two days to pull a truck from the mud using a backhoe, three tow trucks and an excavator.
“The results include… a broken hydraulic hose, oil spill, and violation of numerous regional, provincial and federal laws,” wrote NCES vice-president Fraser Blyth. “The NCES hereby requests that all motorized recreation be curtailed immediately and that no unlicensed vehicles be allowed within the drawdown zone.”
The letter addresses other environmental concerns on the Flats and cites numerous violations that need enforcement, including destruction of fish habitat, destruction of wetlands and grasslands, disturbance of waterfowl and wildlife, pollution, littering, and trespassing on private property.
The drawdown zone is subject to a management plan that was established in early 2007. The Review obtained a copy of the plan labeled as “Final Draft Revised.” The plan was created by a multi-stakeholder group including local government, BC Hydro, provincial government agencies, private property owners, and other local stakeholders.
It sets out a code of conduct for the drawdown zone, however the plan is not legally binding, said BC Hydro spokesperson Jen Walker-Larsen. “The code of conduct can only be enforced through existing legislation,” she said.
Recreationalists – including hikers, cyclists, horseback rides, dirt bikers and ATVers – are expected to only used well-worn routes and stay out of sensitive areas. Mud bogging is specifically prohibited. Motorized access is not allowed south of Drimmie Creek (12 Mile).
The NCES letter says violations of the Water Act, the Fisheries Act and the Wildlife Act are occurring regularly and they ask for greater enforcement. “Enforcement of regional, provincial and federal legislation is absolutely essential to protect this sensitive habitat,” wrote Blyth.
Enforcement itself is a mixed-jurisdiction. The Conservation Officer Service is responsible for fish & wildlife violations. Sgt. Lawrence Umsonst, a conservation officer, said that a recent patrol at 12 Mile found several fishing violations, such as fishing without a licence, using multiple lines and using illegal gear. “Since that initial patrol to that area, (the CO) did two follow-up patrols and found the compliance was good, so that was really nice,” Umsonst told the Review.
Enforcement of environmental damage, such as mud bogging, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Forests, Range and Natural Resource Operations. The local enforcement officer was contacted for this story, but he did respond to our call.
Private landowners, which includes BC Hydro, can go after people under the Trespass Act.
City council asked staff for a report on the matter. “This is not in the city of Revelstoke boundaries but we are being asked to support this,” said Mayor Mark McKee. “A lot of people still look at it as their backyard and as their backcountry recreation area. We have to be mindful of that as well.”
You can see the NCES’ letter and the drawdown zone management plan on our website.