Staff in North Cowichan are working to deal with illegal mountain-bike trails on Mount Richards, located within the municipality’s municipal forest reserve.
At a recent council meeting, Coun. Christopher Justice said he has heard from residents who hike on Mount Richards who have said mountain-bike enthusiasts have been building trails through some very sensitive ecosystems on steep slopes in that area.
“I’ve been there and I saw a lot of damage done over the last winter season,” Justice said.
He asked Shaun Mason, North Cowichan’s municipal forester, what can be done about the issue.
Mason said staff are aware that rogue trails are being built on Mount Richards, and that they are illegal and unauthorized and the people who are doing it can be subject to fines.
“As for what staff are doing about it, we’re working with the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society [which designs and builds trails that limit environmental impact] to find out more information about the [unauthorized trails] and to help us spread the word through the biking and hiking communities that this type of activity is not permitted and we’d like it to stop,” he said.
“We’re also working with our bylaw services team, so if we get any credible information about people doing this type of activity, we can follow up.”
Mason said staff will start with an educational approach toward the illegal trail breakers and provide them with information about the impacts their activities have on environmentally sensitive areas, and staff are patrolling where they can on Mount Richards.
“But it’s tough to really time when these people may be there,” he said.
“If you have walked up there recently, you’d notice lots of signage indicating that this trail activity is illegal and to contact me personally if people want to discuss it,” he said.
“We tend to want to work with people that want to build trails in the area.”
Mason said a thorough assessment of the Mount Richards’ area is planned for 2023 and a review of all the trails in the area is planned.
“We will then take appropriate actions if any of these trails are found to be in inappropriate areas,” he said.