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Date Posted: November 10, 2011
The increased use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) on Crown lands has led to increased concerns about the impacts of ATVs, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas.
A report “All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) And Other Off-Road Vehicle Use On Crown Land” was issued by the Manitoba Conservation, May 28, 2008. The report was in response to concerns raised by Brokenhead Trail Blazers Toboggan Club Inc. regarding increased ATV usage, and lack of planning and legislation surrounding ATVs. Among other things, the report recommended:
- Education on responsible ATV use;
- That high resource value and environmentally sensitive sites be identified and regulations and controls put in place to protect and manage them;
- ATV Special Events Policy be reviewed and approved for the management of ATV special events;
- All designated wildlife management areas (WMAs) be reviewed and where required, management plans prepared, which among other things, will determine whether off-road vehicles should be prohibited, restricted or permitted;
- Review each provincial forest to determine if ATVs and ATV special events should be allowed, or prohibited in sensitive areas or restricted to designated trails.
- ATV use in WMAs be prohibited except on designated trails, and only during specific seasonal periods to avoid damage to trails and wildlife – with limited exception to retrieve a big game kill via the most direct route;
- The draft Off-Road Vehicle Trails Directive 4.2.5 intended to provide direction for off-road vehicles use in provincial parks be finalized, approved and put into effect;
- The draft Special Events Directive 4.4.8 intended to define the process and approval structure for special events in provincial parks be finalized, approved and put into effect;
In a May 7, 2009 press release the Manitoba Government announced: “Effective immediately, any organization or person wanting to use Crown land, including in a provincial forest, for holding an ATV event such as a derby or rally, is required to get a permit from the province. … All-terrain vehicle events are prohibited in all provincial parks and wildlife management areas and in those areas under protected area status in provincial forests.”
Although events, such as rallies and derbies are more regulated, individual ATV use is still allowed, including groups of individuals riding together. Controversy still surrounds ATV use, and it is unclear if any of the draft Directives mentioned above were ever put into force. More clarity and coherent policy surrounding ATV use in Manitoba is desperately needed as evidenced by the following recent examples:
- About 170 people attended a packed meeting in Beausejour March 17, 2011 to discuss the impact of ATV use within the Mars Hills WMA;
- Duck Mountain Provincial Park Trails Working Group issued “Report on ATV Trail Use: Recommendations and Actions” in February 2010 concluding that: “ATV use should not be banned from Duck Mountain Provincial Park, however immediate action must be taken in order to halt unsustainable practices related to ATV use in the Park.
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