In late July, TREPA was alerted to a worsening situation at and near the former dam at the outlet of Kempt Back Lake.
Nova Scotia Power had removed the central portion of the dam at the outlet few years previously. This permitted fish to go up to and down from the lake.
Some residents, who did not want the lake level lowered, addressed the issue by putting in rocks and boards. This has blocked fish passage for some time. Subsequently, some people built a wooden bridge over the partial dam left by NSP to permit snowmobiles to cross.
ATVs began using the bridge increasingly, and now, it has become a popular access route between Forest Glen and North Kempt. Larger vehicles which cannot cross the bridge go through the brook. That means they have to climb the bank on each side, so the erosion situation is rapidly worsening. When it rains, lots of mud gets washed into the brook.
Car left in Tinkham’s Mill Brook just above Kempt Back Dam, July 5, 2016. We wonder how much toxic stuff got added to the ecosystem…
Early this summer, a vehicle was left in the brook for over a week before someone pulled it out. It has since been hauled away.
July 29, 2016: Car had been hauled out on the eastern bank. Lots of potential for erosion and siltation.
July 29, 2016: Substantial gullying on the western side of the dam, thanks to illegal brook crossing by vehicles
The intruders are also leaving an increasing amount of garbage and empty cans and bottles, which the landowners have to clean up.
Barriers of flagged ropes don’t work. Too many drivers just drive around, creating a new “trail.” Note where it comes out, to the right of the picture behind the flags. Not much respect for the Off Highways Vehicles Act, nor for property of others, evident here.
The private owners whose land is crossed became fed up with the littering and increasing damage caused by the vehicles and put up gates and signs the end of July. That had limited effect. Within ten days, the gate had been by-passed, new “trails” blazed, and more litter tossed.
TREPA alerted Nova Scotia Power and Nova Scotia Environment staff, and warning signs and tape were put up in mid-August. That has discouraged some of the traffic, but not all.
Access to this dam is across private property. Section 14 of the Off-Highways Vehicle Act states “No person shall operate an off-highway vehicle on … private forest land, …, park … or any private property, without the written permission of the owner or occupier.” Furthermore, Section 12 of the Act prohibits operation of off-highway vehicles in watercourses. Violators can be fined between $250 and $2,000 for a first offence, and vehicles can be confiscated. Minimum penalties are higher for a second offence.
Nova Scotia Power will soon make a decision on the future of the dam, but it needs to be made impassable to traffic, in any case. Cameras have been put in place, and may lead to some prosecutions, which would probably deter future damage.
This sort of environmental vandalism seems to be spreading. Mandatory training for off-highway vehicle applicants clearly needs to emphasize environmental responsibility more. We encourage ATV associations to make operators, particularly non-members, aware of the laws governing use of off-road vehicles, and help us encourage all operators to behave ethically, responsibly and respectfully. Operators who refuse to do so need to be given suitably educational penalties.