Brilliant Flats -- confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. Photo: Jennifer Small

LETTER: Blocking all motorized access to Brilliant Flats not the right answer

Reader Rod Retzlaff says decision punishes respectful users too

The destruction wreaked upon the Brilliant Flats is obviously, absolutely appalling, but the decision by the province to cut off all vehicle access is not the right solution.

There are many fishermen and women who use that access to allow them to launch their small boats to fish in the Kootenay River. I fish there in my rowboat quite regularly in the summer months. I do as little harm to the environment as possible —leaving no garbage, and spewing no toxic exhaust. Launching elsewhere is really not feasible, as elsewhere includes navigating the mighty Columbia, which is too much river in my small boat.

I noted that the article alleges other “abuses” like camping. There are some who like to camp in the area, but for the most part they seem to be quite respectful. A few signs telling people to take out what you bring in would largely solve the so-called problem of abusive camping.

Mud boggers have been abusing our common lands for quite a few years now, and the government has the power to fine the perpetrators up to one million dollars. They haven’t lobbied such a fine to date. We have legislation in place to impose big fines for environmental destruction, so what are we waiting for?

RELATED: Brilliant Flats closed to motorized vehicles after mud-bogging damage

Unfortunately, rather than punish the perpetrators, the province chooses to deny access to all of us. Some people no doubt make a lot of money selling these horrid machines, but our natural environment is taking a beating, and with more machines assaulting the land every year, the problem is reaching a breaking point.

I note, that the government is now pledging to conduct regular patrols of the Flats to enforce the closing. My question is why didn’t they do that earlier and deal with the abusers, rather than cutting off access to all. The destruction in this case is just the tip of the iceberg, as these horsepower-worshipping people are imposing the same treatment all over in our beautiful mountains.

Obviously, the only way to stop the devastation of our common land, is to disallow off-road ATV access to all Crown land, but our government would rather ignore the destruction and keep the off-road vehicle economy humming. Why else would they encourage the use of off-road machines by allowing them to advertise their products in our hunting and fishing regulation books. No doubt many ATV operators stay on the roads and don’t abuse the environment, but clearly many have no respect for anything.

Rod Retzlaff

Castlegar, B.C.

Conservation