Dozens of monster trucks and 4×4 vehicles with big tires have been driving through Belgo Creek and mud bogging on Crown land in the Black Mountain Irrigation District’s watershed this weekend.
BMID administrator Bob Hrasko said Friday that the vehicles are driving through the creek just above the domestic water intake for customers of his water utility, so their activities will have an immediate impact on water supplies.
By driving through creeks, sediment and mud is disturbed and sent downstream, increasing the turbidity of water, which could trigger boil water advisories from Interior Health.
The district hired a helicopter Friday and planned to hire one Saturday as well, to take photographs of the activity to send to authorities with a mandate to prevent such illegal activity. It is illegal under the Forest and Range Practices Act to destroy grasslands, wetlands and riparian areas and fines are in the range of $500 to $600.
As well, owners of the estimated 20 to 30 vehicles set up a camp immediately adjacent to Graystokes Provincial Park, which is closed to motorized vehicles, except snowmobiles in winter.
The 12,000-hectare park was created in 2001 to protect its native wildlife and their habitat, which includes a complex of swamps, meandering streams—and the moose, mountain caribou and deer which make the area home.
Hrasko is concerned they may be damaging habitat in the park as well as in the BMID watershed, saying the trucks are spinning into deep snow and churning up mud from underneath the layer of snow.
“This is unacceptable behaviour. All this mud that’s churned up comes right down to us in town in our drinking water.
“The community has to show their disapproval for this kind of behaviour. If you see your neighbour with mud all over his truck, ask if he’s been mudbogging in your watershed and tell him that’s unacceptable,” advised Hrasko.
He noted that the location is so remote and in such deep snow still that it’s almost impossible to get in to ticket the offenders. He said the only place it’s legal to mud-bog would be on private property where the runoff wouldn’t enter a stream, lake or pond.
Ironically, May 1 to 7 was Drinking Water Week.