Off-road vehicle use in the backcountry in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres will be banned as of noon today. ~ File photo

Off-road vehicle ban in effect as of noon today, says MLA

The ban will be in effect for the Kamloops, Cariboo and Southeast fire centres

A ban on off-road vehicles in the backcountry in the Southeast, Cariboo and Kamloops fire centres will go in place at noon on Friday, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok.

The ban will prohibit dirt bikes, ATVs, side-by-sides and other off-road vehicles from travelling on Crown land in the three regions. Other vehicles must stay on designated roads.

The BC Wildfire Service confirmed the ban with a news release Friday morning.

“This step is being taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety,” says the news release. “The operation of any off-road vehicles in these regions during the current wildfire situation creates a potential wildfire risk. While jeeps, trucks and other on-highway vehicles are permitted on designated roads, they are not allowed off-road.”

“Conservation Officer Service and Natural Resource officer service will be stepping up their patrols throughout the weekend to help enforce the prohibition,” Clovechok told the Review. “If anyone is found in violation of that prohibition, they may be well issued a ticket of $767. If the contravention of the prohbition causes and contributes to a wildfire, that person may well be ordered to pay for all the firefighting and the associated costs.”

The ban will stay in place until the fire danger lowers, he added.

“Up north its apocalyptic,” Clovechok said. “It’s getting worse, and we don’t want it down here. A lot of this stuff can be prevented if people just use their heads.”

Clovechok said people need to be aware of the danger and be fire smart, and locals shouldn’t be afraid to talk to tourists about it. “If you see poeple doing something they shouldn’t do that contravenes this… just tell them you can’t do that,” he said.

Clovechok and Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka called for a backcountry closure on Thursday. Other groups have done the same.