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NEWS RELEASE · 20th May 2010
Ministry of Environment
Over the May long weekend, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Forests and Range, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and the RCMP are teaming up to patrol recreation sites and forest service roads to ensure people are enjoying recreational activities safely and responsibly, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced today.

"These patrols will help protect public safety and the health of B.C.'s environment," said Penner. "We want people to use ATVs and other recreational vehicles in a responsible way without causing harm to themselves or the environment. We also want to remind everyone that it is illegal to litter and that it is their responsibility to properly manage food and other attractants to prevent conflicts with wildlife."

Since the May long weekend is typically one of the busiest recreational weekends of the year, compliance and enforcement officers, recreation officers and RCMP officers will be conducting patrols of recreation sites and forest service roads in several regions across the province. The goal is to ensure compliance with public safety and environmental regulations in relation to off-road vehicle use (ATVs, 4X4s, dirt- bikes), camping, boating and fishing. Recreation sites with repeat problems are being targeted for extra enforcement. Officers will be giving out warnings or tickets to those who are not in compliance.

"Long weekends are a great time to enjoy our forests, but they are also a time of increased patrols," said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell. "Enforcement staff will be looking for off-road vehicle users who damage our forests, and holding them accountable."

Environmentally sensitive areas such as grasslands, wetlands, streams, hillsides and alpine lands which provide critical habitat for plants and animals can suffer long-term damage from a single use of a motorized vehicle. Recreational vehicle users are encouraged to respect the environment and stay on authorized roads, trails, and designated motorized vehicle areas.

"People use B.C.'s recreation sites and trails more than two million times per year, and we want these sites available for future generations to enjoy," said Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger. "To ensure our visitors have an enjoyable stay, we are asking all campers to be respectful of the environment and fellow recreationists by keeping the sites in pristine condition."

Recreation sites are located in B.C.'s forests. When using recreation sites, users are encouraged to strive for "no trace" camping. What is brought to a site should be taken home afterwards - following the pack- in, pack-out rule. When using recreation trails, it is important to stay on designated trails to protect the surrounding ecosystem. Boaters are reminded to follow all boating safety rules, such as wearing a lifejacket and not consuming alcohol when operating a watercraft. People interested in fishing are reminded to check the fishing regulations
before casting a line to ensure compliance.

Since April 1, fire crews have responded to 213 wildfires, of which 199 were human caused. The public is reminded that anyone found in contravention of a burning restriction can be fined up to $345 or held responsible for suppression costs if their negligence results in a wildfire. To report a wildfire or unattended campfire call *5555 on most cellular networks.

Last year, Ministry of Environment compliance and enforcement actions resulted in a total of 34 court convictions, 2,181 tickets and more than $1.1 million in fines.

For more information on responsible off-road vehicle use, go to: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/things-to-know/off-roading.aspx. [CLICK HERE]

For more information on recreation sites and the "no trace" camping tips, go to: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/. [CLICK HERE]

For more information on managing attractants to prevent conflicts with bears and other wildlife, go to: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html. [CLICK HERE]

For more information on freshwater fishing regulations, go to: CLICK HERE

Members of the public are reminded of the toll free line that allows people to report known or suspected violations of fisheries, wildlife, or environmental protection laws anonymously. The Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line is available 24/7 at 1-877 952-7277 (RAPP).