KVR, Hiking, and Backcountry access during severe fire risk.
On August 17, the RDOS Board voted to write a letter to the Province asking for the RDOS backcountry to be closed to the public until the fire risk subsides.
On August 20, West Bench/Sage Mesa citizens who live along the KVR reported dirt bikes and ATVs still using the trail. I contacted James Pepper, PIB Natural Resources, who connected me with Chief Gabriel. We agreed to partner on signage. Area F paid for the signs, and the PIB Guardians posted them.
On August 21, the RDOS, with the Osoyoos Indian Band, Keremoeos, USIB, LSIB, PIB, Summerland, Osoyoos, Oliver, RCMP, Princeton and Penticton issued a joint statement. The request was for anyone, in particular users of motorized vehicles, heading into the backcountry or using trails, parks and forests to practice great caution due to fire risk.
On August 22, I was on a 'Mayors, Chairs, and Directors' call with Minister Ma (Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness). Closing BC's backcountry was discussed. In addition to industry considerations and First Nation land rights, BC does not have the resources to patrol the bush for those illegally accessing the land. Further, many responsible backcountry users adjust their behaviour to align with fire risk, and, very often, it is those responsible users who first report wildfire activity.
Regarding the KVR, it seems common sense to refrain from using motorized vehicles when the fire risk is extreme (or ever since dirt biking or ATV is not permitted). So, will the signs help to deter motorized vehicles on the KVR? Itis hard to say. But at least the message is clear.
Thank you, PIB Guardians, for posting the signs. If you haven't already, follow the Guardians' Facebook page - they do fantastic work.