As of 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, camping and motorized recreation around Koocanusa has been restricted.
The B.C. government announced Wednesday morning that it is restricting camping and motorized recreation — including the use of off-road vehicles — throughout the entire Koocanusa Recreation Strategy area this spring and summer.
“These restrictions will help prevent environmental damage and ensure orders and guidance from the provincial health officer related to the COVID-19 pandemic are followed,” a press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. FLNRORD is implementing the restrictions in partnership with the Conservation Officer Service, the RCMP, the Ktunaxa Nation and the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, as well as other local governments in the region.
Although overnight camping will be prohibited in this area, people may still use designated roads and trails on a day-use basis as long as they adhere to physical distancing guidelines and other restrictions that may be in place.
There have been growing concerns in recent years about unauthorized mudbogging (i.e., operating or racing off-road vehicles in wet earth or mud) on Crown land around the Koocanusa reservoir — particularly in the Dorr Road and Umbrella Beach areas — and its associated impacts on the land and the environment.
Specific stewardship concerns due to mudbogging and related activities include:
• water and soil contamination;
• damage to forest and rangeland habitat;
• ack of sanitation and garbage facilities;
• public safety;
• impacts on archeological and cultural resources;
• damage to recreational infrastructure; and
• displacement of wildlife.
The restrictions will be enforced by the Province’s natural resource officers, conservation officers and the RCMP, who will conduct regular patrols and educate the public at access points into the area. People who do not comply with the restrictions may be issued a violation ticket for $115 and told to leave the area.
The restrictions for the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy area align with the decision by Recreation Sites and Trails BC to close its campgrounds and amenities to gatherings and overnight camping in response to COVID-19.