ATVs use in the backcountry in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres is banned as of noon today.

ATVs use in the backcountry in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres is banned as of noon today.

Off-road vehicle ban in effect as of noon today

UPDATE

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok told the Bulletin Friday morning that effective noon today, Friday, August 4, the BC Wildfire Service will prohibit the use of off-road vehicles (quads, dirt bikes etc.) in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast Fire Centres.

The official word was put out by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations just before noon Mountain Time.

“Effective at noon (Pacific time) on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, the operation of any off-road vehicle for recreational purposes on Crown land will be prohibited throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre. In addition, all on-highway vehicles must remain on defined road surfaces.”

“Right now the fire danger rating in this area is 5,” Clovechok said. “That’s incredibly high. You need three consecutive days of normal conditions to make it drop. That’s not going to happen right now.

“The campfire bans are still in effect and they will not be lifted. Under Section 12 of the Wildfire Act all off-road vehicles on Crown land are prohibited but there are exemptions around agricultural use and businesses. Also under the Wildfire Act people can be removed from lakes to make way for water bombers.”

The most important thing right now is common sense, he says. For instance, right now it is not prohibited to go out and get firewood.

“But think about. You shouldn’t be doing that. We, as locals, have to set an example. If you see someone doing something, let them know. We don’t want vigilantes running around out there, but you can inform people. If someone is belligerent, get a license plate number and call the RCMP.

“We really want to impress on people to use commone sense. Be fire smart and work together.”

For those concerned about logging operations, Clovechok said that Canfor trucks are hauling wood already harvested, but they are not cutting.

“After three days of extreme conditions they are required to stop operations. They cannot resume until there has been three consecutive days of normal weather conditions which means, given the long range Kootenay forecast, will not be any time soon.

“Currently Canfor as an example has about 70% of their operations closed down until conditions return to “favourable:”

“In short there is no active harvesting being done in the restricted areas. There is active hauling still going on but that is materials that have been already cut and have been stacked by the roads. They estimate that these supplies will be depleted by the middle of next week and there will be no hauling.

“Contractors who have been and will be loosing work will be referred by Canfor to the BCWS for possible fire mitigation work.”

Clovechok and fellow MLA Tom Shypitka from Kootenay East began advocating publicly for the ban on Thursday.

Clovechok said he spoke to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson about the ban.

“I had a conversation with him and I was really impressed. He was open and flexible. This isn’t about politics, this is about protecting people.”

Clovechok said he anticipated there may be some park closures as well when the announcement is made later this morning.

“They are also going to step up the CO service. There will be more patrols this weekend.”

The fine for operating an off-road vehicle while banned is $767, but even bigger is what could happen if the vehicle is involved in starting a fire.

“If it is decided that a person in contravention of the ban contributed to a fire, the person responsible will be ordered to ay firefighting costs,” Clovechok said.

The issue now, Clovechok said, is to get the message out to everyone planning to be out in the backcountry this long weekend.