We love exploring the beautiful forests and trails of the Island, and we want to make sure we're doing it in a way that minimizes our impact on the environment. Here are some tips on how to practice good trail etiquette when off-roading on Vancouver Island.
Accessing the Bush
Access to the bush on Vancouver Island has become extremely limited due to corporate ownership over most of the Island. Local forestry companies have chosen to block access to many or most of the best destinations which leaves few options for the general public and visiting explorers. That said, trails do exist and it is still worth exploring to see what you can find.
Using the Bush
In general it is important to avoid creating new paths or shortcuts, as this can cause erosion and damage to the soil and vegetation. Stick to existing trails to minimize your impact on the forest.
Unfortunately, local forestry management companies such as Mosaic destroy trails when they find them, often by way of enormous excavations of the surrounding areas, and installment of heavy concrete blocks and steel gates. This action pushes users further off pre-existing trails and leads to unnecessary environmental harms.
Our impact as wheelers pales in comparison to the wide scale industrial level destruction happening behind closed gates, but none the less it is important we minimize our impact wherever possible.
Things to Avoid
It should go without saying, but littering sucks and makes the trails worse for everyone. Make sure to pack out everything you pack in, and don't leave any trash behind. Also, avoid cutting down trees or breaking branches. We want to keep the forest as natural and beautiful as possible. If you need to clear an obstacle in your path, try to move it aside rather than destroying it.
Rivers, streams, and wetlands should be avoided as they are sensitive ecosystems. Respect the environment and avoid driving over sensitive areas. It is also important to avoid driving on fragile terrain, such as steep slopes and erodible soils. This can cause erosion and damage to the environment.
Open fires should only be lit in appropriate areas and should never be left unattended. If you do light a fire, make sure it is completely extinguished before you leave the area.
Lastly, always remember to be respectful to other trail users. This includes other off-roaders, hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Give them the right of way when you can, and be courteous. Follow the rules of the trail and be mindful of your noise level.
By following these simple steps, we can all help ensure that Vancouver Island remains a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.
Here is an example of the typical trails used by offroaders. The impact to the surrounding areas is low and trail users cause minimal disruption to the environment. It's nice to find yourself in places like these.
Here are some examples of a road cut by forestry. The impact to the environment is extreme. The feeling of natural beauty is destroyed and often the destruction extends further than the eye can see.
It is important for us to create a welcoming environment for other wheelers and expand public awareness, so that our trails remain intact and we can experience more of the former and less of the latter.