Parks Canada Q&A
Editor | On 28, Feb 2016
On December 6, 2014 two snowmobilers required rescue inside of Glacier National Park boundaries.
At a court date in Golden BC on February 17th 2015, one of the sledders was found guilty of having committed an offense of an over-snow vehicle in the park without permission. This individual was fined $230 and ordered to pay a restitution of $3770 to Golden Search and Rescue, even though they crossed into the park by accident. We caught up with Manager of External Relations for Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, Marnie DiGiandomenico to discuss the issue of snowmobiling illegally in a National Park. This conversation speaks to several issues at the heart of this incident. – MSM Ed
Mountain Sledder Mag: Everyone knows you shouldn’t snowmobile in the National Park; can you reiterate why motorized off-road vehicles and snowmobiles aren’t allowed in the park?
Parks Canada: As a world leader in conservation and visitor safety, Parks Canada makes sure that National Parks are dedicated to the people of Canada and must be maintained unimpaired for future generations. Motorized vehicles can have negative impacts on the ecosystem. The presence of snowmobiles or motorized off-road vehicles can also adversely affect the enjoyment and safety of park visitors.
MSM: What happens if “sledders” get caught riding in the park? Is there a standard fine for getting caught?
PC: As a first step, Parks Canada works hard to educate our visitors and motorists about best practices for their safety and the safety of wildlife to help ensure they have the best possible visitor experience; these best practices are underscored by rules and regulations. People caught feeding wildlife may be faced with a mandatory court appearance and could face charges up to $25,000 depending on the offence. The ticket issued by a Park Warden for operating an “oversnow” vehicle in a park without written permission has a fine of $75.00 associated with a single offence. However, a fine as determined by a judge can be as high as $25,000. In addition, a judge could also order an offender to pay costs associated with a rescue; for example, to cover the costs incurred by a local Search and Rescue organization. An offender may also be ordered to undergo community service of some kind.
MSM: Where does confiscation of sleds/vehicles come into play?
PC: Park Wardens have the authority to seize any articles related to any offence, and in certain cases such as where a Warden feels that an offender will continue to commit the offence or repeat the offence before a court date, the snowmobile or off-road vehicle involved in the offence could be seized and secured.
MSM: What steps are being taken by Parks Canada to increase awareness of park boundaries to “sledders”?
PC: Collaboration and cooperation with stakeholders and partners is the key to increasing awareness of this issue among the snowmobile community. Parks Canada is working with clubs such as the Golden Snowmobile Club to enhance messaging on their club website and at their entrance gate and club cabin in Quartz Creek. We are also installing new park boundary signs in the Quartz Ridge area this summer. In addition, we are looking to collaborate with provincial snowmobile associations in order to reach more out-of-province snowmobilers at the trip-planning stage, and increasing law enforcement boundary patrols next winter.
Snowmobilers are reminded to check maps at provincial trail heads to ensure they are not entering Glacier or Mount Revelstoke National Parks, look out for yellow Parks Canada boundary markers and “No Snowmobiling” signs, and understand where the “height of land” is during their trip (as this most often delineates national park boundaries). Park wardens patrol the boundaries regularly, and snowmobilers near park boundaries should be prepared to produce identification and be able to articulate trip plans at a park warden’s request.
MSM: What enhancements, if any, to [boundary] signs is Glacier National Park undertaking in the Quartz area this summer?
PC: To further delineate park boundaries, Parks Canada will be replacing old signs and adding additional signs along the boundary of Glacier National Park in the area known as “Quartz Ridge, which borders the popular Quartz Creek snowmobiling area. The new signs will also incorporate a “No Snowmobiling” icon and text that reads “No snowmobiles or motorized vehicles beyond this point”.
– MSM Ed