Every year, thousands of Albertans use our trails and public lands responsibly – and every year, there are a few who choose to break the law. This might seem like a tempting option – when you’re out on the land, you want the experience to be as fun as possible, and if that includes riding through water bodies, traveling in restricted areas, or riding off-trail, breaking these rules might not seem like a big deal.
But it can be a very big deal – not only for the landscape, but for your wallet. So before you head out this weekend, ask yourself – how much are you willing to pay to break the rules? As two Albertans recently discovered, the cost might be a lot more than you were expecting.
Last week, two individuals were convicted of operating an on-highway vehicle illegally in a Public Land Use Zone and were fined $1,250 each. Over the May long weekend, they chose to ride into a protected area on a trail where only off-highway vehicles are allowed. The Cardinal River Headwaters trail, which runs through a protected area of the Coal Branch Public Land Use Zone, is restricted to off-highway vehicles only. The trail travels through sensitive alpine environment and travel off the trail or by inappropriate vehicles can cause damage that takes years to heal. Here’s a first-hand look at the damage caused to the area:
We know that Albertans love riding through this area – but we also can’t permit erosion of the trail to continue. If users continue to ignore the law, we may have to close the area entirely to vehicles.
Avoiding fines and keeping our public lands open for recreation is simple: know the rules and respect them. Our landscape is a shared resource – and a shared responsibility.