Area restrictions that were put in place for the area of the Tremont Creek wildfire and other 2021 wildfires throughout the region have expired, but Motor Vehicle Closed Areas have now been established in the Thompson, Okanagan, and Kootenay Regions. They apply to the areas of the Tremont Creek, Sparks Lake, Lytton complex, and McKay Creek fires, as well as 11 other wildfire areas.
The closure applies to all motorized vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, electric bikes, and all types of off-road recreational vehicles, wheeled or tracked, including snowmobiles.
The closures affect backcountry roads across approximately 536,000 hectares, and are due to severe wildfire damage. Concerns include wildfire impact to habitats that need time to recover; erosion of charred soils and impacts to fish habitat; increased vulnerability of wildlife due to migration disruptions, habitat loss, and improved sight lines for hunting where vegetation was burned; and increased access to wildlife habitat due to the construction of approximately 2,900 kilometres of fire guards.
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, and it is not known how long they will remain in effect, although the intent is to repeal or replace these closures in approximately 18 months. Some exceptions to these prohibitions will be provided to ensure that throughfares remain open and access to private property is not affected.
Within the closed areas, the following restrictions apply:
All Industrial Roads, including Forest Service Roads, are closed unless the road is used to access private property or is highlighted in green and designated as open year round.
All roads that are used as the boundary of a closure are open year round.
Highways, or roads maintained by the Ministry of Transportation, remain open year round. Generally, these roads can be identified if they are numbered highways, are paved, or are in place to access communities. Examples of highways that remain open include the Tunkwa Lake and Barnes Lake Roads in the Tremont Creek closure, and the Deadman-Vidette Road in the Sparks Lake closure.
Motor vehicle access for commercial activities in the area, other than hunting, may continue. Hunting is permitted within motor vehicle closure areas only when accessed by non-motorized means (e.g., on foot or by horseback). People who need to go into the area are asked to stay on existing roads and trails to minimize any disturbance. Individuals may use or operate a motor vehicle on private property and on roads used to access private property.
Maps of the areas affected, including downloadable georeferenced maps, are available at www.gov.bc.ca/motorvehicleprohibitions.