Anyone or any group planning to run an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) derby or rally on Manitoba Crown land or into provincial forests must now get a permit to do so.
The new policy, which won’t apply to snowmobile events, takes effect immediately and will carry a maximum penalty of $10,000 for violations under the provincial Crown Lands Act.
“Over the last couple of years there have been a notable number of wildfires linked to the use of all-terrain vehicles in forested areas and in some of the province’s marshland,” provincial Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said in a release Thursday.
“These fires have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in timber and increased the province’s firefighting costs.”
Wildfires can start when debris gets lodged in and around ATVs’ engines and exhaust pipes, then ignites from the heat and drops off in a fuel-rich area.
ATV events are already prohibited in all provincial parks and wildlife management areas, as well as in those areas under protected area status in provincial forests. ATVs are also banned in the province’s ecological reserves.
The province said it will soon launch an information campaign to help educate ATV users about the potential of causing forest fires, and about ways to reduce the risk of wildfires.
Everyone who uses forests and natural areas should be aware of their responsibility to protect against wildfires and to take necessary precautions, Struthers said. Those include:
- ensuring ATVs are equipped with a spark arrestor,
- checking the ATV engine area and exhaust system periodically to make sure it’s clear of debris,
- ensuring debris is removed and disposed of properly, as this is often a source for starting fires,
- never parking an ATV on dry grass or vegetation as the manifold can heat up to over 500°C,
- driving ATVs only on marked roads and trails, and
- carrying a fire extinguisher, axe and shovel as a precaution.
The province also noted that while ATVs are outselling snowmobiles and the number of registered ATVs has doubled in the past five years, there hasn’t been a provincial association (such as Snoman, the snowmobilers’ association), until now, to represent the ATV community, develop and maintain a network of trails and deal with emerging issues and problems.
All-Terrain Vehicle of Manitoba (ATV MB) has just recently been formed and the province plans to work with the new group to address concerns about ATV use, “including educating riders on their responsibilities and potential impacts when riding on public lands,” Struthers said.