Help is being sought to track down three ATVs and a truck that were tearing up wetlands in two areas off the Munro Lake Forest Service Road west of Peachland Saturday about 2 p.m.
Conservation officer Jim Beck said he just missed catching the mud boggers while he was patrolling the new Garnet Valley closed area, where motor vehicle use is restricted to a single main route between Peachland and Summerland, Highway 97 and the Garnet Valley.
If you were in the area last Saturday afternoon and saw any of the vehicles, which would have left toward Peachland from there, he asks that you contact him through the Report All Poachers and Polluters line at: 1-877-952-7277.
They could be charged under the Forest and Range Practices Act with ‘unauthorized activity resulting in damage to the environment’ and fined $575. If it was a second offence, Beck said they will be sent to court so a judge can determine the penalty. “It would likely be much higher,” he said.
All would also have been guilty of operating a motor vehicle in a closed area, in order to have driven to the wetland areas, he added.
In all, Beck said a team of conservation officers patrolling that area over the Easter long weekend laid two charges and gave out eight written warnings as well as talking to 22 other people about the new closed area.
One of the tickets was served to the driver of a vehicle driven illegally between two signs advising motorists about the new closed area and restrictions making it illegal to drive off the designed routes within that area between Jan. 1 and Apr. 30.
The fines levied for that charge were $230 for each offence.
As well, another driver was fined $230 for possession of open liquor in a motor vehicle.
Beck said the Garnet Valley closed area is well-used by overwintering deer as a grazing area at a particularly vulnerable time of year for them, when the does are pregnant with fawns and they’ve been short of good feed through the winter.
The closed area is intended to stop the use of illegal roads and trails in the area, where erosion and other environmental damage is being caused by motor vehicles.