Fort Shepherd closed to motorized vehicles indefinitely

“Having seen the abuse, and it was blatant, we had a meeting and we decided that Fort Shepherd will be indefinitely shut down.” ~ Fillmore

The gate is not opening anytime soon to motorists at Fort Shepherd since a wildlife steward witnessed off-roaders tear through the property.

The land located on the west shore of the Columbia River, across from Waneta, has become a popular playground for off-road enthusiasts.

Use of the area by all-terrain vehicles, motorbikes, and off-road trucks has increased considerably over the past decade.

Though there are signs warning motorists to stick to the main road, some people have ignored access boundaries, and it has resulted in trails, gullies and eroded land, dispersion of noxious weed species and disturbance to wildlife through human intrusion and noise.

The area is closed from December to the beginning of March to preserve ungulate winter range.

However, due to an early spring, some people jumped the cue and started trespassing three weeks early.

There is evidence of mud bogging, burning donuts and other off-road damage mainly from trucks but also from quads and dirtbikes, according to Rick Fillmore, land use committee chair for the Trail Wildlife Association (TWA), which manages the property on behalf of the Land Conservancy of British Columbia.

When the last disturbance was witnessed pre-season, years of misuse were brought to a head.

“Having seen the abuse, and it was blatant, we had a meeting, and we decided that Fort Shepherd will be indefinitely shut down (to motorists),” said Fillmore.

“The gate will be locked, a sign put up, and any violators caught will be charged with trespassing and also if they’re seen doing any damage, they’ll be charged for willful damage.”

The property that runs from the first gate down to the Waneta Border Crossing will remain closed until TWA secures grant funding to update its signage, surveillance and possibly a map to better manage the property. The club would like the cooperation of all ORV (off-road vehicle) clubs at this time.

The Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area was established in 2007 with the primary objective of conserving the area’s wildlife and habitat values.

The Land Conservancy of B.C. owns the land, and delegates management to the Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area Stewardship Council, a branch of TWA.

“The Land Conservancy has given the authorization to do this, and if it goes any further they’ll just shut it down completely, forever, because they’re not going to put up with this,” said Fillmore.

An access management policy was developed to provide a framework for managing access to the property. All access by off-road vehicles, ATVs and motorbikes was prohibited on roads, trails, river gravel bars and cross-country travel. Motorized public access was only permitted on the designated main road through the property.

Unfortunately, this policy has not been respected over time. TWA hired a warden at $1,450 a month for eight months of the year, but routine patrols didn’t work for regulars who knew his working schedule. The club has also worked on up to $40,000 of habitat restoration projects there.

Irene Manley, a wildlife biologist who’s invested a lot of time and money protecting and restoring habitat at Fort Shepherd, said it’s discouraging to see extensive damage to grassland and riparian habitats.

“This type of damage is detrimental to the ecosystem at Fort Shepherd, and it impacts habitat and species,” she said, adding that compliance and enforcement is currently investigating possible infractions under the Water Act.

Fillmore echoed her frustration.

“Just because people own an ORV they think it’s their divine right or sense of entitlement,” he said.

TWA just found itself in the middle of a land dispute at the end of last year when the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource pitched a proposal that limited motorized entry in the Pend D’Oreille valley.

According to its website, TWA’s next general meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at the United Church. For more information, visit www.trailwildlife.com.

Just Posted

Stolen sax, sheet music, impacts Trail big-band and after school band

Anyone with information is urged to call the Trail RCMP detachment at 250.364.2566

Extensive road repair nears completion in Fruitvale

The scope of work includes new water and sewer service connections as well as road resurfacing

Community invited to check out mining trade show in Trail

Trade show free and open public on Wednesday and Thursday in the Trail Memorial Centre

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Christmas blooms in downtown Trail

The Artisan Craft Co-op recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in downtown Trail

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read