Unprecedented closure this spring of local grassland areas to off-road riding has resulted in what advocates say is a groundbreaking plan to designate provincial ATV trails.
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is partnering with Quad Riders ATV Association of B.C. on the project. Together they have hired a consultant to do a conceptual plan of a riding area outside Logan Lake.
“We closed off grassland areas at Tunkwa Lake, Six Mile and Cherry Creek,” said Noelle Kekula, a recreation officer with the Ministry of Forests.
“If you close something, you need to provide people with somewhere to go.”
Terry Wardrop, a local representative of the ATV association, said there is excitement among enthusiasts that the Logan Lake plateau area could become a major destination for riders from Lower Mainland, Alberta and Washington State for a regulated experience.
“They’re going to evaluate riding opportunities based on the standards we provide for attributes of good ATVing,” Wardrop said.
“The Logan Lake area has become a magnet for riders from the Coast.”
But that attraction resulting in riders and campers spilling over into sensitive grassland areas at Tunkwa Lake, prompted a camping and riding ban by the province this spring.
A $35,000 contract — $30,000 from the province and $5,000 from the association — has been awarded to Forsite Consultants Ltd. to draw up a conceptual plan. Kekula said that will eventually lead to designated trails and maps for riders.
A particular focus is providing areas for families because children under 16 cannot legally ride on forest service roads.
“We need a network where a family can go,” Kekula said. It you’re from Alberta, Lower Mainland or Washington and you want to go quading — here’s an area and here’s a map.”
Wardrop said a key difference with this planning exercise is that riders will be consulted on the trail program.
Logan Lake councillor Garry Youd said the plan will fit with a focus by the municipality on attracting riders. It plans on expanding its campground as well as developing a loading area and possible underpass beneath Highway 97C.
“We’re excited. We’d like to see it happen. We’re trying to expand our campground and get more access to trails.”
The grasslands closure also affected off-road motorcycle riders. Kekula said the ministry is working with the Greater Kamloops Motorcycle Association on an exclusive network of trails in the Duffy Lake and Greenstone Mountain area.