Spring is the season to get out and enjoy nature, to take a walk or a nice hike on one of the many beautiful trails across the West Kootenay.
But too frequently trail users are coming across unwanted guests — dirt bike and ATV operators.
The bulk of West Kootenay hiking trails are designated for non-motorized use, but Castlegar Parks and Trails Society representative Doug Clark says motorized use is happening far too frequently.
“A lot of people enjoy those trails because it is a peaceful, beautiful environment they are in — to have a noisy machine come along not only scares people, but it destroys the experience,” said Clark.
Clark is quick to acknowledge that it is only a handful of dirt bike operators that “spoil it for the rest.”
Dirt bikes and ATVs are frequently causing damage to the area’s hiking trails, according to Clark.
He says that when dirt bikers drop a wheel off the edge of a trail, the shoulder is pushed off, causing erosion.
Clark also says the practice of tearing up soft areas off of the trails can lead to irreparable erosion. Other problems include disturbing the natural environment, making ruts and disturbing wildlife.
Besides the damage caused to trails, Clark is also concerned about maintaining private landowner permission for existing trails, considering that most tenures were granted with the understanding the trails would not be used by motorized equipment.
Dirt bike and ATV users are encouraged to use sanctioned trails and areas such as those maintained by the West Kootenay Recreational Dirt Bike and ATV Society and logging roads rather than hiking trails.
If you see someone improperly using a local trail, Clark recommends informing them in a non-confrontational way that the trail is for non-motorized use only.