Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for May 25, 2011

‘The Lions are having a holy crap moment’

A wildlife corridor outside Haines Junction has been severely damaged after an ATV rally held by the St. Elias Lions on May 7.

By Will Johnson on May 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

photo

Photo submitted

MUD BOG – Meadows have been turned into swampy mud bogs near Haines Junction, following an ATV rally held by the St. Elias Lions on May 7 (top). DEVASTATION – Concerned citizens fear it may take up to a decade for the ravaged landscape to recover from the damage.

A wildlife corridor outside Haines Junction has been severely damaged after an ATV rally held by the St. Elias Lions on May 7.

A delegation of concerned citizens has met with the Lions Club and plans to make a presentation at the regular Haines Junction village council meeting tonight.

“Once you put those deep ruts into the soft boggy ground and rip up vegetation, that stays there,” Wolf Riedl, a concerned Haines Junction resident, told the Star this morning.

“We’ve already seen environmental damage in the past. This isn’t the first time.”

Riedl believes the recent event is just one example of an ongoing problem with ATV users in the territory

“The technology is getting bigger, crazier,” he said. “This is what happens when you challenge nature with machinery.”

The damage extends over a 10-km area, from near the Mackintosh Lodge to the village centre. Meadows have been converted into mud pits in multiple areas.

Riedl would like both the Lions Club and the territorial government to take responsibility for the environmental damage.

“If you let people on ATVs go unregulated, bad stuff happens on too many occasions,” he said.

The ATV rally is an annual memorial event for Jorg Schneider, a motorcycle enthusiast who died 15 years ago. This year, the event raised $5,200. Almost $3,000 was given away as prize money, while $500 went to the Haines Junction library and $1,300 went to future community projects.

“This year, the event mushroomed on us,” said a Lions spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous.

While the event has normally attracted around 30 to 40 people in past years, this year, they had between 130 and 140 people in attendance.

The spokesperson said most of the participants were from Whitehorse.

“This was a mud bog event, with maximum mud. That’s the attraction: ATVing in the mud, getting unstuck, getting soaking wet,” he said.

“This is like Disneyland for them,” said Riedl.

The spokesperson said the Lions realized immediately after the event that there was a problem, and had a meeting on May 9 to discuss the event’s future. They have also met with members of the community.

On Tuesday, members of the Lions Club joined concerned residents at the Alaska Highway to survey the damage.

“We listened to their concerns. Before June 4, we’re going to have a Lions meeting to determine the future of the event,” the spokesperson said.

“The damage looks horrific,” he said. “The Lions are having a ‘holy crap’ moment.”

News of the event’s aftermath has been circulating by e-mail, and both NDP Leader Liz Hanson and Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell received forwarded messages that included pictures of the damage.

“Any responsible ATV user would be shocked at that sort of destruction,” said Hanson. “We need to see some evidence of somebody, somewhere taking responsibility.

“This is a very public area. It’s not hidden back in the wilderness. It’s one of those situations that’s put right in our face,” said Hanson, noting that much ATV damage escapes public attention because it occurs in remote areas.

“This is where the government needs to take the next step. Regulations need to be implemented,” she said.

Mitchell believes unusually irresponsible riders are to blame for the damage.

“It seems to me like these problems have occurred because of a relatively small group of people,” he said.

He pointed out that there are many responsible, conscientious ATV drivers out there, and feels they shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a few reckless users.

“I’m concerned, I want to make sure we don’t take the lowest common denominator and restrict everybody,” he said.

“People speed on the highways. We don’t need to pass a law to make the speed limit 20 km/h just because some people go 160 km/h.”

Mitchell believes the damage already violates the law.

“There are all kinds of tools within the Environment Act,” he said. “You can’t just go out and do that. This is not acceptable. People are absolutely right.”

Rather than implementing new laws, Mitchell said, the government should be enforcing existing legislation.

“Then we ask, OK, the rules aren’t sufficient? What is?” he said. “Thou shalt not go out and tear the hell out of the countryside?”

Riedl said the Lions Club, though responsible for the event, shouldn’t take the brunt of the criticism.

“They’re not the bad guys here. The problem is the political powers that refuse to act,” he said.

“Lots of people would agree it’s wrong, ripping around like that,” he said.

“But right now there is absolutely nothing illegal about it. Right now they can do this wherever the want, whenever they want. They feel like they should have a right to do this.”

Riedl is disappointed with the response he has received from the government. He said local politicians seem to be “in a coma” regarding this issue.

Environment Minister John Edzerza did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

Members of the Trails Only Yukon Association, which advocates controls on ATV use in the back country, could not be reached for comment.

CommentsAdd a comment

ES

May 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm

This is very unfortunate to have happened. What do you expect when you get 140 people on quads racing around in spring time? The organizers must have known the consequences. $5,200??? Is that all it costs to go out and rip up untouched nature? Seems too dam cheap to me.

Seems like people have lost respect for nature all together. Isn’t it weird how we humans are so good at ruining things without feeling any remorse.

I am sure there is some quad head out there right now thinking what a greeny sissy I am for writing these comments and what’s the big deal because there’s lots of nature out there. The sad thing is that there won’t be any nature around for their grandchildren to enjoy once they are finished with it.

Oh well. My comments are most likely to fall on deaf ignorant ears anyways…...

JC

May 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm

TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!

Steve E

May 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Nice mess morons, lets see how many “Lions” volunteer money and time to fix this mess. I already suspect that taxpayers will be footing the bill somehow and political posturing will continue ad nauseam. If I pulled this stunt I’d be sued and possibly be incarcerated with tree huggers demanding my execution after all my fingernails were removed and my eyes gouged out.

Susan Rogan

May 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Sorry, this is not ‘Disneyland’ for ATVers who like ‘maximum mud’.  It was a home for wildlife, and now lies in ruins.  I wonder how many bird nests were crushed into the mud by the weekenders having fun?

Just imagine what we do NOT see out beyond well populated areas.

Is there any doubt that some people will not be stopped by common sense?  Look at this photograph.  This is exactly why we need laws enacted confining ATV use to TRAILS ONLY.

Josey Wales

May 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Holy Crap alright…perhaps a aerial photo showing the size of this…mud puddle, more effective melodramatic lobbying tools.

I am on the fence with this issue of ATV use as it is currently permitted to exist.

I understand & enjoy the benefits to ATV use in this the last para-free zone in Canada.
I even understand some of the eco-fanatics we seem to be over represented with here in the Yukon.
And too…the difficulty this presents to our government(s) here.

I too agree that existing regulations be enforced…and yes for everybody.
regardless of where “ones lands” are located they are all tied together.
if the quagmires of self governing F/N’s permit their own/visitors(a.k.a. “trespassers”)...and our way top heavy levels of regular governments…AND each one of us tolerates this crap by whomever…then we too must share some of the responsibilities.

really folks, I could not imagine NOT reaming out a fellow ATV…or 4Wheeler, for being a complete knob resulting in big scars of ego everywhere.

If it were to go that way, it would be the last time me and person whomever ride together.
I actually go to length to avoid the moron types whom feel the need to be…
well, morons.
Rutting the hell out of the Yukon…
Rolling through stop signs…
passing on the right….
drinking and driving/rearing children…

yup, all the work of MORONS.
MORONS whom exact a big cost on the rest of us, financially,politically, socially…and in this case…environmentally too

Anthony

May 25, 2011 at 11:14 pm

What a bunch of idiots. 

Some serious fines for all participants should be dished out.

True North

May 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

‘“There are all kinds of tools within the Environment Act,” he said. “You can’t just go out and do that. This is not acceptable. People are absolutely right.”’

The Environment Act does not, in fact, contain the “tools” to address this particular issue in any way.  In my opinion, the fact that Mitchell doesn’t know that is telling.

Charles Demers

May 26, 2011 at 10:33 am

I am so tired of irresponsible news reporting in this town. For a change why not get all the facts before printing a story and get them straight. That is all this article is, a story.

JuneJackson

May 26, 2011 at 10:53 am

These pictures show the damage done everywhere in the yukon by the irresponsible ATV clubs. 

It does need regulation, and perhaps their own track where they can’t damage property or themselves.

Yukon Hootch

May 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Perhaps the Lions should use the money they raised towards restoration for the land they destroyed.

Jim Bob

May 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Did any of you tree huggers notice the pollution from the mining industry, Auto industry, Big oil… etc. Which are, by the way, destroying the earth. Why not whine about that instead of a few ATV tracks in the mud. Get a grip, get a life!.

Joel

May 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

OK then Charles, what is everyone missing that you know?

sheesh2

May 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Loud stinky machines. Yes, they have a place as a worker machine but to use them to tear up the landscape and pollute the air. WHY?

shenya

May 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Reclamation - These clubs need to be regulated to deposit dollars or regulated to have reclamation policy enforced.  Miners or loggers have to.
This type of Fun for Damage is bad influence for some of us who use ATV respectfully.

A Workman

May 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I really enjoy reading all of the self righteous banter on this subject, here are a few facts that are left out like there are in ever news post.

1) the terrain back there is a swamp that floods dramatically every year around that time so of course it’s going to look that bad when you get a couple hundred riders there

2) the run has been going on for a number of years with a high population of riders so for everyone to just now take notice to the back terrain makes me wonder if this is the “next thing” for people with too much time to complain about

3)is everyone blind to the location of the two pictures? two different pictures of two different areas…

and on a personal note: the people who don’t like the ATV use in the Yukon can just leave, the people who want us to stop can just give up, the people who want us to pay fines can pay for the enforcement costs

also Susan Rogan; you want to talk about common sense? what you’re asking to happen is for OTHER people to do the work for everything to go YOUR way… and if you’re so concerned about whats outside of the populated areas maybe you should go out there for a while

I am a proud Yukoner and i will not be talked down by a bunch of hyprocratic city dwellers who the worst thing they faced was a bad tv reception.

PS: dont think about taking this to a vote, you will loose, it’s all the communities and a third of whitehorse versus all of you in Riverdale or wherever you are from

Anthony

May 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Charles:  Please elaborate.  You’re implying that you have information on what ‘really happened’

Enlighten us.

Regardless, motorized ........... are showing their true colours here.

Susan Rogan

May 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Charles, that is what this forum is for.  Please let us know ‘the rest of the story’ if you know it.  For instance, I heard one person say that the only places they went were places that had previously been ripped up by a D-8, so it was not like this was pristine wilderness.  But that is not what the article says.  It says this is a ‘wildlife corridor’ and ‘two meadows’ were ripped up.  So what is the truth?

I do feel bad for the Lions who were trying to have a nice day and raise some money.  I applaud them for organizing an event in their community.  It just looks like it needs to be thought out more thoroughly.

Better laws are necessary so this sort of disaster does not happen again.

Anyone driving out to Marsh Lake can see the damage done by just one ATV’er in the marshes/flats past the Army Beach bay (heading away from Whitehorse).  One individual tore around doing donuts and left his/her damage like dirty toilet paper for everyone else to look at.  Who cares about the sandpipers and other creatures, the delicate plants and their short opportunity to do their thing for the year?  Unfortunately, this is why we need laws.  Just like we need laws telling people not to steal and punishing them if they do, some people just will not ‘get it’ otherwise.

Wolf

May 26, 2011 at 10:55 pm

The majority of this article is accurate regarding my opinions; however, I do not agree with some comments and feelings that have been expressed. I agree with one previous comment, that this article is a story, at least it has become one, varying from what I initially intended to accomplish with this outreach to political powers for action upon ATV usage.
I would like to correct the conceived meaning of the thoughts expressed. ATV’s definitely have their place in the territory and are great for transportation in all areas, hunting being the top positive use, trails over the country side are great for hunting and should be legally used. The trail in question, has been a designated trail for a long time and used for the poker run for years. The event is great for the community and is one of the better fundraisers. The issue this year was the amount of people who showed up, this resulted in the negative issues but can’t be helped now, just addressed and fixed for next year.
I would like to also add that, unlike Hansen said; the trail is in a secluded area. Although close to town, it is very rarely used and many don’t even know of it.

Francias Pillman

May 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm

18 comments in 2 days? You people continue to show the world what matters the most. Real issues, you people are no where to be found, it’s sad. The sheer amount of letters to local newspapers about this stupid ATV issue and the amount of comments on here in such a short time proves what is important to people. Real issues like GMO’s, Yukon Electric, Northwestel, outsiders wrecking the Yukon, etc, etc. Those issues affect everyone, but why the silence? What are you scared of? Get your priorities straight.

Yearly trail rider

May 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm

For many years there have been Poker runs held in Haines junction on the same trail every time! Nobody broke new trail and none of the area is sensitive, or known for wildlife habitat.  We did what has been asked, and did not break new trails, what the heck is all the fuss about? If this was done in an area that had never been touched by humans, protected or on a wildlife habitat then yes call names, but please we are not bad people and do not deserve to be called names. We Stuck to the trail used for many years, can you not be thankful for that?

Susan Rogan

May 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

A Workman:  If you are so much a proud Yukoner, why are you ashamed to attach your real name to your post?!

Ha! Oh ya, you are real proud.

Attitudes like yours are the ones that actually demonstrate that we need LAWS to stop MORONS.  People with common sense do not rip up habitat.  You insist that people who want you to stop ‘can leave’.  Oh gee, there’s an example of someone we really need in the Yukon!

FYI, Mr. A Workman, I do own a quad, and a dirt bike.  And I have lived here for 19 years.

Now go hide behind your moniker and scribble out another ‘proud’ response.

A Workman

May 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

okay here are the facts that people want:

firstly the entire run is actually within the community which is still being developed, and on top of that the entire run is partly on a firebreak, old mining trail, and for all i know there’s an old wagon road from old Mr. Brewster.

secondly the trail isn’t in a wildlife area… it’s in a friggin’ town, not in the alpine or the park, but a town.

another reason would be that why the hell people are worrying about a patch of land that’s going to be a subdivision in 10 years than to the trail leading up to some of the mountain ranges

and so before you go attacking a kid riding on the side of the highway, think about how close minded you people are about ATV use

CN

May 28, 2011 at 12:13 am

okay, so all these people that have read the story, know the “story”, and want rules and regulations to limit atv’s to be restricted to trails.  well isn’t that something that the poker run just so happened to be on a 10 kilometer trail…  hmm.  these bikes tear down an exsisting trail, that has been there for years, one day out of 365 days this run happens, for probably only 5 hours. all of a sudden the people that have read this “story” are worried about reclamation of the area, fining people that registered for the run and for the wildlife.  this story should have never been printed, at all.  there is nothing to worry about here, there are a couple pot holes on an existing trail, where isn’t there, we have pot holes all over the ytg highways, go tell them to reclaim the road.  there’s just a bunch of over reacting people in the junction and a newspaper that wants to sell paper, they knew this story, if properly printed would attract people.  i can’t wait for the day haines junction actually does get a golf course, i would love to see the reaction of junctioners then,  if there was a problem with this run, weather there’s 40 riders or 400 riders, these people with the problem should have thought about addressing it years ago.

Trail Rider

May 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

It is sad to see how many gullible and naive people out there that read this ‘story’ and actually believe it for fact. You are quite pathetic.

This poker run played exactly into the hands of Mr Riedl and Mr. Taylor to further their own personal agenda. For the past 14 years this run has been held on the same route without a peep out of them. But now this is their fantasy moment for some free tabloid trash. This is truly THEIR Disneyland moment.

Susan Rogan, really, you can’t be taken seriously. “How many bird nests were crushed into the mud?” Really, get serious. The reason that a very small portion (perhaps 1-2 km) of this trail was called a wildlife corridor because somebody originally made a trail there.

We use this trail for about two hours on one day of the year, for 14 years, and it has always grown back over naturally. Already as of today lush green grass is growing.

A manager from YTG Energy Mines and Resources travelled the route a few days after the event and said that “no damage to the environment had occurred”

Oh, you wanted facts? The actual number of machines was 126, not 140.


And Ken Taylor, you said you could land a 747 there?  Well perhaps you should take all your followers, give them a big glass of your green Kool-aid and attempt the landing.

proud of wilderness, ashamed of people

May 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Notice none of the “proud” participants have stepped up to the plate to offer to hold the event on their own property next year.

Having said that, there is no reason why areas can’t be set aside for this type of event, just as parks are set aside for the protection of wildlife and people who enjoy relatively undisturbed nature.

For some ATV enthusiasts, the whole point is to get outback where they can shut off their machines and enjoy (or exploit) our wilderness as it is. As human population increases, wildlife disappears. At some point, sooner or later, these people are going to have to consider forgoing or at least limiting that which is convenient for them. (Can’t have your cake and crap on it too…)

For the more seriously addicted ATV users who just want to drive around in circles, maybe we could set up safe ATV facilities in conjunction with safe injection sites. Maybe even some counseling if they so chose, instead of treating them like criminals.

And unfortunately, there will always be a significant number who can’t have fun unless damage and suffering is inflicted.

Please try to consider the devastating consequences other regions of our planet have sustained due to unregulated industrial AND personal human activity. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. 

Freedom doesn’t come for free.

Krysta Meekins

May 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

True North, maybe you should do some more research.  Arthur Mitchell is absolutely right - we DO have laws addressing environmental damage such as this.  They just aren’t being enforced.

See section 175 of the Environment Act: 

“A person who, in contravention of this Act,

(a) intentionally or recklessly causes material impairment to the quality of the natural environment; or

(b) shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons causing a risk of death or harm to another person,

is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding $3,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both. S.Y. 1991, c.5, s.175.”

proud of wilderness, ashamed of people

May 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Kryta, Section 175 only states penalties for, “A person who, in contravention of this Act,...”.

Would you (or someone else) please be so kind as to suggest specifically which section(s) of the Environment Act you believe to be in contravention by “this type of behavior”?

Thank you.

Trail Rider

May 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Once again, you nature nazi’s don’t get all your facts correct.

To ‘proud of wilderness’; part of this mud bog actually did take place in one of the organizers personal field, and they have hosted the run every year! Plus this area IS set aside for this event.

To Krysta, your interpretation of the law is at best comical.

To Susan Rogan, ‘A Workman’ IS HIS REAL NAME, it is not a moniker. You say you own a quad and a dirt bike? Really? So, you have never driven these machines off road into mud or gravel and not left any ruts? Wow, I suppose when you ride I’m thinking that you don’t need a helmet? Just the angelic halo over your head to protect you?

Hey Ken, hope there are still some seats available in that 747 for more of your cult followers. Maybe you could show White Fang as the inflight movie, these people will think it is a documentary. Have a happy landing.

northone

May 31, 2011 at 5:46 am

Some rutted trails, not good but judging from the comments here, you’d think it was some sort of environmental calamity.

Anyone here been to a quartz mine?  Or an advanced exploration site and see what goes on there?  Are you aware of the extent of the clearing and work that can legally take place on mining claims without a licence or even notification to the government?

I wish our journalists reported on what was happening in the hinterland on a massive scale, with real environmental consequences rather than hyping up a minor issue like a rutted trail.

proud of wilderness, ashamed of people

May 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Trail Rider,

Nowhere do I state the event in question was not partially held on an organizer’s private property, nor do I state the area in question was not set aside, nor do I state the event in question was not held every year. (Get a grip before you post…)

The other paper quotes Ken Taylor; “(the area in question) is WIDE ENOUGH to land a 747 on.” Please provide reference(s) to support your claim Ken Taylor; “...said you could land a 747 there…”

In the same article Ken Taylor was also quoted; “They need a place to play. But not to the extent seen in these pictures. That’s just craziness.”

Please provide reference(s) to support your claim; “A manager from YTG Energy Mines and Resources travelled (sic) the route a few days after the event and said that ‘no damage to the environment had occurred’.” Include the manager’s identity in your reply.

Please provide reference(s) to support your claim; “...this area IS set aside for this event.” Include reference(s) to documentation from each authority having jurisdiction over this event.

Thank you.

Jack Malone

May 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm

@ Trail Rider.  Hey - why don’t you try to insult a few more people.  Stick to the facts - which are damning in this case - and stop the childish insults.  You need to grow up - are you old enough to drive or you just act childish?

Krysta Meekins

May 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Trail Rider and “Proud”:  The legislation is quite clear, and (to answer your question, Proud) the specific section of the Environment Act that is contravened by serious ATV ground disturbance is as follows: “a) intentionally or recklessly causes material impairment to the quality of the natural environment;”

The legislation then provides for specific penalties when authorities deem someone to have caused such “material impairment.”  How else would you interpret that? 

Whether or not this specific situation was an intentional or reckless material impairment to the natural environment is up to the officers who visit the site.  I wasn’t there.  My argument is simply that there are already provisions in the Act prohibiting environmental damage by ATVs or other means.  More restrictions are not going to help the situation if the existing rules are not being enforced.  Perhaps more education and/or enforcement would be a better solution.

Trail Rider

Jun 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Proud: The wingspan of 747 is 212 feet. I’m sorry, but this trail is not that wide.  Ken Taylor is trying to force his own opinion down our throats that ‘we don’t need this much room to play’. This took place within town limits, which is up to mayor, council, and local Renewable resource council to decide. NOT Ken Taylor, this is out if his jurisdiction. Why don’t you call up YTG EMR HJ and ask them what damage occurred? If there was, Krysta, don’t you think they would have acted on it???

proud of wilderness, ashamed of people

Jun 2, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thanks for your civil response Trail Rider. Your cause appears much more lucid this time around.

While it may not be Ken Taylor’s jurisdiction, he does have rights to voice opinions. I don’t think the actual size of the area is in question, but rather the size of the type of area (notwithstanding exaggerations). Whether or not his actions have had a positive influence is another question altogether.

I also understand your frustrations in that the participants were not given a fair voice in this article. However, adding fuel to the fire only serves to diminish credibility (and I include myself…). My concern is both sides of the overall issue of ATV use are now further apart than ever.

After the crap hits the fan, authorities are usually the first to deny official knowledge or involvement. If the participants/organizers do have authorization in written form, they only need produce it and refer the matter to the permit signatories. If not, I respectfully urge they ensure future permits are secured in writing.

Obviously these issues are not going to go away anytime soon. Disregarding extremists on both sides of any issue, it appears that most decent Yukoners want the same thing; responsible enjoyment, sustainable development, and reasonable protection of our wilderness. We just can’t seem to agree upon solutions when it comes to resolving land use conflicts.

Francias Pillman

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm

33 comments now? Give me a break. Why are these non issues so dam important to you? I bet you people have ATV tire track nightmares. Waking up in a cold sweat, then angrily writing letter #34 to the local newspapers. Why are you people silent on the real issues? I would like a real answer from an adult. If there is any on here that is. I don’t need a “you are a dumbass” comment. If that’s all your little brains can come up with, TRY HARDER.  And like everything else, I’m always right. ALWAYS. You cannot question greatness.

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