The place for ATV’s and other motorized ground vehicles is on designated trails and other areas where they can be legally operated. Not wandering haphazardly through woods and fields, and most assuredly, not on beaches and shores, nor in marshes, swamps, and other wetlands.
Take a look at these pictures, which were brought to TREPA’s attention by enforcement staff from Nova Scotia Department of Environment. The wetland and shores around Wilsons Lake have been designated as critical habitat for Atlantic Coastal Plains flora. This assemblage includes many species at risk. The Tusket River basin has probably the most diverse collection of these species anywhere, and the area around Wilsons Lake is particularly rich in rare species.
Besides destroying plants and the animal life that depends on them, romping through wetlands in vehicles worsens erosion and in the worst cases, can pollute water supplies.
This kind of habitat destruction has to stop. Clause 12A of the Off-Highway Vehicles Act says that “No person shall operate an off-highway vehicle in or on a wetland, swamp, or marsh, a watercourse…, a sand dune, a coastal or highland barren, or a sensitive area…” Clause 12 B adds prohibitions for beaches, core habitat as defined by the Endangered Species Act, provincial park or park reserves, and protected sites or ecological sites designated pursuant to the Special Places Protection Act.
Romps of this sort in areas designated critical to endangered species are a federal offence under the Species at Risk Act.
Operators need to respect the laws governing the use of ATV; if they refuse to, their toys should be confiscated. Mandatory training for off-highway vehicle applicants clearly needs to give more attention to environmental responsibility. 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 behave ethically, responsibly and respectfully.
Folks who don’t care about the damage their romps cause need to be aware of the various laws they are violating. If they are caught, they risk very heavy penalties. We are getting very tired of this wanton damage. It has to stop.
Panoramic aerial view of the carnage, taken July 21, 2016
The rompers drove into the lake, hereby committing another violation of the Environment Act
They didn’t kill off all the endangered Plymouth gentian, but smashed down quite a few
This stand of insect-eating (and uncommon) pitcher plants would be healthier if ATV drivers weren’t illegally romping in their habitat.