It has been brought to my attention that many, if not most people, are unaware that it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle across rivers, brooks, or streams in the Province of New Brunswick, and the shock hits them when they are faced with a $290 fine plus possible vehicle impoundment. A good friend of mine called me the other day, all flabbergasted, saying that a friend of his got hit with a big fine for driving his ATV across a river. I told him that it is indeed against the law, and he had absolutely no idea. There are a few designated watercourse crossings in our province, but these are for farmers and their farm equipment, not for the weekend warrior. I just assumed everybody knew this, and people who chose to drive across a waterway knew it was illegal but just didn't care. This is why I think it would be a good idea for me to post this on here, and perhaps explain WHY it's illegal.
Here are the three main reasons why watercourse crossing is illegal in NB:
1) It's been documented that one liter of used motor oil can contaminate one million liters of water. With 40% of New Brunswickers dependant on surface water such as lakes and rivers, it's not much wonder as to why fording a waterway is illegal. When an SUV or an ATV crosses a river, that oily sheen you see trailing behind has just contaminated one million times that amount.
2) All that off-roading needed in order to get to the rivers edge kills the vegetation, which ultimately leads to soil erosion. Not convinced? Just watch an ATV trail on a yearly basis and notice it getting deeper and deeper in the ground. Where's all the dirt going? It finds its way into the river, and this causes unnecessary sedimentation. On top of that, the act of driving on the riverbed shifts the lay of the gravel over time, and this causes changes in the water flow, which leads to channel shifting and further erosion further down river as time goes on.
3) Last but not least, fish such as smallmouth bass, trout, and salmon make their nests (redds) in the gravel on riverbeds. When somebody drives across a river, they can drive over these nests, destroying them and their hundreds of thousands of eggs. If the young have hatched before anybody driving on the nests, they tend to hang out near the shore to avoid predators. When somebody drives in the river, they either crush them with their tires, or they get washed ashore to meet their demise.
If you drive across a watercourse which is on scheduled water at a designated watercourse as determined by the Province of New Brunswick, unless you are a farmer driving your tractor to the other side in order to tend to your fields, you are breaking the law. The Department of Public Safety (formerly known as DNR) have surveillance cameras observing these sites, so don't be surprised if you get a knock on your door and an officer confronts you with video footage of you in the act along with a hefty fine. If you are doing this on non-scheduled water at a designated watercourse crossing site, bear in mind that these are not for repetitive use and the province discourages their use. Motor vehicles do NOT belong on our beaches tearing up the landscape, and they absolutely do NOT belong on our watercourses if for nothing else but the reasons listed above. Do the right thing.