Two provincial government signs posted recently at the entrances to the Red Johnson Lake Trail banning the use of motorized vehicles shouldn’t be there.
The 9.5km trail does not fall under provincial jurisdiction and there are no restrictions on who can use the trail, said Brandy Hughes, a recreation officer with the provincial forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development ministry based in Smithers.
“We’re were surprised as anyone to learn there was a sign there,” said Hughes last week. “It’s one of our signs but we did not put it there.”
The signs headed “No Motorized Vehicles” contain images of a vehicle, an ATV and a motorcycle within circles with a line through those circles.
They are a common site on trails where motorized vehicles are banned and the ministry will now try to figure out where they came from, said Hughes.
“We will certainly be looking into this,” she said. “Somebody obviously got a hold of one and put it there for some reason. This was definitely not authorized by us.”
The signs first caught the attention of Burns Lake resident Gerald Eckland who then wrote a letter to the editor of the Lakes District News criticizing the apparent closure of the trail to people using ATVs or other motorized vehicles.
“A lot of seniors and people with disabilities are restricted. I myself use a quad now, traveling at a very low speed and enjoy the scenery and wildlife,” Eckland wrote.
Contacted last week, Eckland said he was pleased to learn the signs were not placed by provincial recreation officials and had no legal standing.
“Wonderful,” said Ecklund in describing the trail as a rugged but worthwhile opportunity to view scenery and wildlife.
“The north side of the trail is the best. There’s just some wonderful scenery there where you can see the lake,” he said.
Eckland noted that in the past, hand-scrawled signs banning the use of a motorized vehicle would be posted on occasion.
The Red Johnson Lake Trail, sometimes called the Ridler Trail, was first cleared by the Lakes Economic Development Association nearly a decade ago using federal grant money funneled through the region to counteract the effects of the pine beetle epidemic.
It was meant as an attraction for both local residents and to boost the tourism potential of the Lakes District by adding to its outdoors amenities.