The legality of using a Forest Service Road by an ATV is established by what is not said rather than a specific authorization. To see the legality is based upon following a legislative thread that either omits or incorporates various pieces of legislation.
Forest and Range Practices Act
Division 2 “ Roads sections 22 through to 24 govern the building and use of Forest Roads and can be viewed as the enabling legislation. The majority of the legislation covers the building and industrial use of the roads. Of particular interest to the Quading community is section 22.2 which provides for public use without charge. This same section allows the District Manager to restrict use or close the road to the general public and incorporates the regulations under the Industrial Road Act which governs the operation of vehicles.
The next significant section is Section 24 which exempts a Forest Road from being classified as a highway (Public Road) under the Transportation Act unless declared by the Lieutenant Governor in council (Cabinet). With this exemption the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act do not apply to Forest Roads
BC Reg 70/2004 Forest Service Road Regulations
These regulations authorized by the Forest and Range Practices Act govern the use of Forest Roads. The pertinent sections to Quads are as follows:
Section 1 Definitions
A Motor Vehicle is defined for the purposes of the Legislation and these regulations. It defines a motor vehicle as a vehicle that is intended to be self propelled and designed primarily for travel on land or on surfaces other than rails. This means an ATV or UTV can be classified as a motor vehicle.
Section 2 Provisions of Motor Vehicle Act applicable to Forest Service Roads
This is a very significant section to the Quad Community. As Section 24 of FRPA excludes FSR’s from being classified as a Highway (Public Road) the Motor Vehicle Act does not apply. In this section the Regulations identify what sections of the Motor Vehicle Act that do apply to Forest Roads. Section 3 of the MVA which establishes the requirement of vehicle Licensing and registration is specifically excluded from the sections of the Act that apply to Forest Roads. This enables Quads to operate on a Forest Service Road without licensing and registration. For information purposes this section was actually designed to allow unlicensed Logging Trucks and Logging Equipment to operate on the roads.
The next significant item is section 24 which requires a valid driver’s license.
Section 221 of the Motor Vehicle Act
The final significant section regarding operation is Section 221 which requires helmets for motorcycles which has been unofficially been deemed to include ATV’s
The other sections of the Motor vehicle Act that have been identified cover such things a driving on the left hand side of the road, passing, stopping at the request of a Peace Officer, showing drivers license and insurance driving under the influence and so on. It is recommended that a person familiarize oneself with these requirements.
The final item of note in the regulations is Section 12 which requires 3rd party liability insurance while operating a motor vehicle on a Forest Road.
This paper provides the legislative thread that allows the operation of an unlicensed vehicle on Forest Roads. What needs to be recognized is that in order to ticket a person for an illegal act the person issuing the ticket must be aware of the legislation that is being violated. For example is a ticket is issued for operating an unlicensed vehicle that is a violation of section 3 of the Motor Vehicle Act which does not apply to a Forest Road.
If anyone finds this information is misleading please advise me as soon as possible.
Land Issues Coordinator
This opinion is based on knowledge of Forest Service Legislation and is a personal opinion only and is not to be construed as a formal legal interpretation. Each individual is responsible for determining the legality of their actions.