Picture this: It’s a gorgeous summer day and you’re out exploring a new area on your ATV. The sun is hot and you see the cold, refreshing gleam of a creek coming up in front of you. Do you ride through?
If you’re tempted to answer ‘yes’ to this question, you might not know that riding a motorized vehicle through any water body on Alberta’s public lands – or along the shoreline – is against Alberta law. And if you know that it’s against the law, you might be thinking ‘yeah, I’d do it – but I would be careful – and besides, how much damage can one person do anyway?’
The simple answer is that you can do a lot of damage – not only with your tires, but also through the example you set for other riders. Your actions by themselves might not have a huge impact, but it’s not only your actions that matter – it’s the actions of everyone in that area. A little damage multiplied by many vehicles can lead to a lot of damage – very quickly.
No one knows this better than our field staff. Here, they tell you for themselves about the damage motorized vehicles can cause – and how you can prevent it:
Can’t watch the video right now? Here’s a cheat-sheet:
Three reasons why riding through water is bad news:
- It kills fish eggs and fry and damages their habitat.
- It stirs up silt and lowers water quality for everyone downstream.
- Tires can severely damage the shoreline, which can require ESRD to close trails or whole areas to allow for repair.
Here’s a quick summary of exactly what you need to do to avoid damaging riverbeds and shorelines – and to stay within Alberta law:
- Stay dry. Keep your wheels out of the water and away from the shoreline. If you need to cross a water body, use a designated bridge or crossing to minimize damage.
- Know before you go. Research your route before you go and make sure it minimizes potential damage to the landscape.
- Keep it clean. Always wash your vehicle after use to minimize the spread of invasive species – but do it at home, not in a lake or stream.