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Grassland closures aimed at off-road vehicles

August 26, 2016 1:32 P.M.

Off-road vehicle use as well as camping will be prohibited in the Lac du Bois, Batchelor Heights and lower Noble Creek areas as of Sept. 1. 

Additional measures are needed to protect sensitive grasslands and riparian ecosystems in the areas near the city, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced Friday, Aug. 26.

The closures are designed to prevent further damage to the grasslands, such as soil disturbance and introduction of invasive weed species, and to help restore grassland ecosystems. Responsible ORV riding and recreation will ensure the Thompson Rivers district remains a popular tourist destination for future generations, the ministry said.

Camping is also prohibited in the closed areas. The ministry encourages the public to use designated camping facilities at provincial recreation sites or B.C. Parks.

Members of the Kamloops Naturalist Club has been advocating increased protection for the Lac du Bois/Batchelor area for years. With participation by recreational clubs, they co-ordinated a cleanup last spring of the Dewdrop-Rousseau Creek area last spring, an effort that included increased enforcement by conservation officers. That made a marked difference, said club member Frank Ritcey.

"It happened right after," he said. "People did get the message, and others got the message about reporting those who are doing things illegally."

He also applauded the camping crackdown, since campfires are found abandoned in grassland areas.

"I think in areas like the grasslands, you need a year-round campfire ban," he added. "It's just too hard to effectively police and it would greatly reduce partying."

The new closures do not apply to snowmobiles, First Nations pursuing traditional harvest rights and non-recreational users engaged in lawful activities.

The province also will designate additional ORV riding areas in the Thompson Rivers district, effective Sept. 1. These areas include upper Noble Creek, which has 34 km of existing legal trails, and Lafarge, a 338-hectare recreation site with designated ORV routes.

Existing designated ORV riding areas in the Thompson Rivers district are:

  • Lac du Bois ORV area, approximately 450 hectares northwest Kamloops.
  • Duffy-Greenstone, approximately 130 kilometres of trails southwest of Kamloops.
Residual snow reveals off-road vehicle damage in the Lac du Bois Protected Area. (Frank Ritcey)

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