There seems to be some misunderstanding about the trails in Fernie and over whether or not motorized vehicles are permitted on them.
A conservation officer for the East Kootenay Zone said because of an increase in illegal motorized activity, signage has been added to many trails in the area.
Patricia Burley said the non-motorized crown land trails are around Mount Fernie and Mount Proctor, whereas the trails on private land are under agreements with the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) and landowners to manage a non-motorized system.
“The Conservation Officer Service is reminding the motorized community to educate themselves so as not to violate provincial law and frustrate non-motorized users,” she said. “We ask the public to respect the signage posted by the FTA.”
Trail cameras, enforcement patrols and reports from the public can help catch violators, and the public is encouraged to report plate numbers of violators.
Mount Fernie Provincial Park is also non-motorized under the Park Act, she said.
“Dirt bikers are not allowed to use these trails at any time.”
Pat Gilmar, who sits on the FTA board, said there have been a number of acts of vandalism on the non-motorized trails this summer, where in some cases entire polls have been ripped out of the ground.
“In one case, they not only tore the post down, they carried
it up the road 50 metres and threw it into a gully.”
The trails, which FTA helps maintain, are non-motorized trails, he said.
“There’s motor bikers out there that did no work, have no rights, and they’re saying ‘screw you, we’re going to ride the trails anyway’, so we’ve been putting up non-motorized signs now for the past five years and quite consistently they’re ripping them down.”
Sometimes the people on motorized vehicles will try and challenge Gilmar and insist they are allowed on the trails.
“It’s constant diligence that we have to constantly work at,” he said. “To get the information out there, to put the signs back on. Our program is education.”
It’s not always easy having an encounter with someone on a motorized vehicle, he said.
“I would say half the time it’s an issue, they’ll talk back and battle back, the other half of the time they’ll say ‘well I didn’t know and I’m sorry’ but you know half of them are lying. You take it with a grain of salt as long as they turn around.”
In these cases, Gilmar gives them the number to the conservation office in the area.
Burley said if anyone wants to report violations they are to call 1-877-952-7277.