Al­berta off-road ve­hi­cle use un­sus­tain­able: en­vi­ron­men­tal group

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

ED­MON­TON— Nearly a decade’s worth of data and ob­ser­va­tion from an en­vi­ron­men­tal group sug­gests Al­berta’s frag­ile back­coun­try is be­ing dam­aged by un­sus­tain­able off-high­way ve­hi­cle use. Ruts deep enough to swal­low a man and ero­sion that has re­lo­cated streambeds shows that some ar­eas can’t han­dle mo­tor­ized traf­fic even if users do their best to be re­spon­si­ble, says the Al­berta Wilder­ness As­so­ci­a­tion. “We have pho­to­graphs of trenches that are so bad that a per­son is stand­ing at the bot­tom of it and it’s over their head,” said Sean Ni­chols, who runs the as­so­ci­a­tion’s trail-mon­i­tor­ing pro­ject. “There are some ar­eas where there are three or even four trails par­al­lel be­cause all but the most re­cent are es­sen­tially im­pass­able.” Since 2003, the as­so­ci­a­tion has buried traf­fic sen­sors at three trail­heads con­nect­ing about 70 kilo­me­tres of des­ig­nated off-high­way ve­hi­cle trails in the Bighorn re­gion in the Al­berta foothills south­west of Ed­mon­ton. The group has also sent teams up the trails to pho­to­graph changes. Its num­bers show use has grown sig­nif­i­cantly. Although traf­fic dropped in flood years, the num­ber of ve­hi­cles on those trails grew from 3,226 in 2007 to 5,544 in 2014.

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