Backcountry road users are being advised that the roads and trails closed in October 2021 across the Thompson-Okanagan region following 15 severe wildfires last year will remain closed until further notice.
The closures were established under the Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regulation of the Wildlife Act, and apply to backcountry roads across approximately 536,000 hectares. 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. Most Forest Service Roads, and all recreation trails and trail networks, remain closed.
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 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. Other affected areas are those around the Sparks Lake, Mckay Creek, and White Rock Lake fires, and the entire area around the Lytton complex (which includes the Lytton Creek and George Road fires).
The closures are intended to be temporary during habitat restoration planning and activities. Although there is currently no end date for the closures, the intent is to repeal or replace these closures after approximately 18 months. Where appropriate, they will be replaced with site-specific requirements that consider fire severity, degree of recovery, and intent of recovery plans collaboratively developed with First Nations and informed by stakeholders.
Users may apply to access certain closed roads within these areas on an individual basis; go to FrontCounterBC at https://bit.ly/3woebpc.