A couple of mud slingers ripping up a local watershed found themselves in deep water.
Despite disputing the tickets in court, a pair of offenders recently pled guilty and were ordered to pay fines for mud bogging in the Duteau Creek watershed last spring.
Conservation officers Ed Seitz and Ken Owens issued the fines while conducting a May long weekend recreational site patrol up in the Aberdeen area May 21, 2016. Despite signs indicating that it is a watershed, the offenders were fined for driving around in the Grizzly reservoir.
And now authorities would like this violation to serve as a reminder to the public.
“It’s fairly serious, you’re looking at people’s drinking water,” said Seitz, noting the contamination plus environmental damage that can occur.
Under the Forest and Range Practices Act, fines of $575 were issued for actively mud bogging. But the fines can reach upwards of $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year.
And authorities are cracking down, both day and night – the conservation officers caught these offenders in the act at night.
“Every year we have issues up there, and in other sensitive habitat locations throughout the province,” said Seitz. “Many of these jacked-up mud bogging trucks have attached LED light bars now, and are actively going out at night to avoid detection.”
There have also been cases of 4x4s doing hill climbs up dams. But what these people don’t realize is the damage and contamination ends up costing taxpayers money.
“If you are doing this, it is illegal and you will be fined,” said Renee Clark, Greater Vernon’s water quality manager. “Every little thing that we’re doing in the watershed affects our water quality. Treat it with respect.
“The more it is impacted, the more we have to treat it and there’s a cost to that.”
While violations continue to occur, awareness is spreading. And efforts are being made to protect certain areas – such as the Grizzly reservoir (23 kms up from the Duteau Water Treatment Plant). It became a rec site last year which enables COs to enforce the area, as they did last year and will continue to do.
Greater Vernon Water is also working with a contractor to get fencing instaled, trails established and further developments such as additional toilets.