Illegal off-roading leads to fines, probation for 2 P.E.I. women

P.E.I.'s Department of Justice is reminding the public illegal use of off-road vehicles can lead to serious environmental damage — as well as legal implications.

2 P.E.I. women plead guilty to driving Jeeps along river; province also investigating tractor tracks on beach

Two P.E.I. women were convicted of driving off-road along a power transmission corridor to where it met up with a tributary of the West River. (Submitted by Wade MacKinnon)

P.E.I.'s Department of Justice is reminding the public that illegal use of off-road vehicles can lead to serious environmental damage — as well as legal implications.

Two Island women pleaded guilty Monday to operating motor vehicles on a sediment bed, beach or bank of a watercourse — a violation of the Environmental Protection Act.

Crystal Ann Doyle, 40, of Fanning Brook, P.E.I., and Raegan Nicole Morrison, 40, of Kensington, P.E.I., drove two all-wheel drive Jeeps along a power transmission corridor to where it met up with a tributary of the West River in Brookvale, P.E.I. on July 15

The two women caused some of the damage shown to the stream bed and river banks in Brookvale, P.E.I., said Wade MacKinnon with the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Public Safety. (Submitted by Wade MacKinnon)

"They're not only destroying the stream beds, but the river banks that hold the banks in place, so there's more erosion that actually occurs. So, there's the destruction of fish habitat as well as driving vehicles is prohibited," said Wade MacKinnon, manager of investigation and enforcement with the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety.

The women were fined $1,500 each, sentenced to one year probation, and ordered to perform 10 hours of community service for the Central Queens chapter of the PEI Wildlife Federation.

Incident being investigated at Beach Point

MacKinnon said investigators are also looking into another incident, this one at Beach Point.

He said his office received a call Friday afternoon reporting vehicle tracks on the beach. He said someone had driven a tractor on the beach, and had removed rocks and sand.

An incident at Beach Point last week, where someone drove a tractor across the beach and removed rocks and sand, is currently under investigation. (Submitted by Wade MacKinnon)

"We're following up on that, if anyone happens to know who might have been on the beach Thursday or Friday last week, we'd be happy to know," he said.

Enforcement a priority

MacKinnon said Island ATV clubs are doing a good job of expanding the legal off-road trail system. and cracking down on those who don't use the trails is a priority for his office.

"It's our number one complaint," he said. "We have complaints from farmers for destruction of crops, driving through their fields, they're illegally trespassing on private property, they're going on the Confederation trail, they're on beaches, wetlands, dunes — all prohibited activities."

He said anyone can report illegal activity to his office at 1-902-368-4884 or online.

With files from Brian Higgins