Anyone venturing out into the back country in the Southern Interior should be aware that Motor Vehicle Closures established in October 2021 following last year’s devastating fire season are still in place.
The closures were established under the Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regulation of the Wildlife Act, and apply to backcountry roads across approximately 536,000 hectares in 15 severely wildfire-damaged areas of the Thompson-Okanagan region.
The affected area includes 74,509 hectares around the Tremont Creek wildfire east of Ashcroft, although the recreational facilities at Barnes and Willard Lakes on Barnes Lake Road remain open and accessible.
Roads were closed to allow areas to recover from a number of wildfire impacts, including erosion of charred soils and impacts on aquatic ecosystems and fish habitat; the potential spread of invasive species; increased vulnerability of wildlife due to migration disruptions, habitat loss, and loss of vegetation cover; and increased open areas due to construction of approximately 2,900 kilometres of fire guards.
All roads remain open for residents or for access for commercial activities. All public roads (i.e. those maintained by the Ministry of Transportation) are accessible, and any roads used as the boundary of a closure remain open year-round. All recreation trails and trail networks remain closed.
On June 27, 2022, the motor vehicle closures were amended to open portions of some previously closed Forest Service Roads to the public, predominantly to allow access to lakes for recreation.
The closures apply to all motorized vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, electric bikes, and all types of off-road recreational vehicles, wheeled or tracked.
The closures do not affect community residents or access for commercial activities other than hunting. The closures are intended to be in place while recovery efforts are planned and initiated. Users may apply for an exemption to access certain closed roads within the fire areas.
It is unknown how long the closures will remain in effect.
For more information about the closures, including a list of the FSRs that were opened in June and maps of the affected areas, go to https://bit.ly/3bh0UHj.