Area burned by the Elephant Hill wildfire near Ashcroft on July 7, 2017. The entire area covered by the fire will be out-of-bounds for all off-road vehicles starting May 17, 2018. Photo: Matti J. Lagerbom.

Area burned by the Elephant Hill wildfire near Ashcroft on July 7, 2017. The entire area covered by the fire will be out-of-bounds for all off-road vehicles starting May 17, 2018. Photo: Matti J. Lagerbom.

Province bans all off-road vehicle use in Elephant Hill wildfire area

Ban goes into effect on May 17 to support wildlife recovery strategies.

The Province is taking action to restore portions of the Southern Interior that were severely affected by the Elephant Hill wildfire this past summer.

Effective Thursday, May 17, 2018, the area known as the Elephant Hill Wildfire area of the Thompson Rivers Natural Resource District and 100 Mile House Natural Resource District will be closed to motorized vehicles-including automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and all types of off-road recreational vehicles-except on existing roads. The closure will be in effect until December 31, 2018, while restoration activities for the area are being planned and implemented.

Elephant Hill Section 58 Map by Barbara Roden on Scribd

The announcement follows a ban on all ATV/UTV use in the area which was put in place last fall during hunting season, to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats in regions affected by the fire.

READ MORE: ATV, UTV use prohibited in area of Elephant Hill wildfire

In the summer of 2017, the Elephant Hill wildfire burned an estimated 191,865 hectares. The fire itself and fire suppression activities, such as the creation of 1,200 kilometres of fire guards, have opened up areas that were previously difficult to access.

The closure aims to support wildfire-recovery management strategies, and is in response to an anticipated increase of unmanaged recreational off-road vehicle use and camping pressures on sensitive ecosystems in the area.

Unauthorized off-road vehicle use can have many negative effects including soil compaction, erosion, increases in invasive plants, garbage accumulation, and pollution from camper trailer holding tanks. This affects grassland health and wildlife habitat, as well as quality and availability of water for wildlife and livestock.

The closure will not apply to:

* Authorized users performing activities associated with agreements awarded pursuant to provincial statute, such as existing tenures.

* Snowmobiles operating on a minimum of 0.5 metres of snow.

* The following existing recreational trails:

* Green Lake Snowmobile Trail (REC6246)

* 70 Mile-Green Lake Trail (REC6897)

* Interlakes Snowmobile Trail (REC6961)

Existing roads will remain open for public access into the closure area. Non-motorized uses are not restricted.

Please note that off-road vehicle owners need to register their off-road vehicle if it will be used or operated on Crown land, including resource roads, and need to comply with the registration and insurance requirements of the jurisdiction where the off-road vehicle is operated.