All Terrain Vehicles and Fish Habitat

President Tom Boag was acknowledged in this manuscript.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Each year, more and more Canadians enjoy the use of all-terrain vehicles and
off-highway vehicles (ATVs and OHVs). The wide variety of ATVs and OHVs
include those motorized vehicles with common names such as 4x4s, quads,
trikes, and off-road motorcycles. ATVs and OHVs provide a great way to travel, but
operators should be aware of the potential impacts these vehicles can have on the
environment. You can do your part by following these environmentally friendly riding
practices that will allow you to enjoy off-roading activities while protecting our
environment and aquatic ecosystems.

(Click here to read the complete:
All Terrain Vehicles and Fish Habitat)

ATVs, OHVs & Fish Habitat
When crossing water bodies,
riders often choose to cross at the
shallowest point. Unfortunately
this poses some of the greatest
risks to fish and their habitats.
These shallow crossing areas are
also preferred by species such as
walleye, trout, sucker and Arctic
grayling as spawning sites. Gravel
areas with shallow flowing water
provide the eggs with clean and
well-oxygenated water needed for
their early growth. Driving over
these areas can compact the gravel
and cause siltation that may kill
fish eggs and young fish, and at a
minimum, will reduce the quality
of the overall habitat.
The various plants in and along
the shoreline of lakes and streams
also provide important spawning,
nursery and feeding habitat for
many fish species. For example,
northern pike rely on nearshore
vegetation for spawning in the
spring. Even though a creek,
shoreline or wetland may be dry
in the summer, it may provide
important spawning and rearing
habitat during high water.
Fish habitat will be protected if
you follow the environmentally
friendly guidelines in this fact sheet.




• Do not drive your ATV
or OHV up and down a
stream channel or waterway
at any time.
• Consider constructing bridges
at water body crossings to
minimize impacts to the water
body and its fish habitat. (If
bridges are the preferred
option, be sure to acquire
all regulatory approvals and
permits before starting
the work).
• If you cross a water body
where there is no bridge, use
crossings that others have
used, or choose a location with
a rocky bottom and low, stable
banks. Minimise the number
of times that the water body
must be crossed, and cross
slowly to avoid stirring up
sediment that could drift
downstream and smother
spawning beds. Cross the
water at right angles to the
stream banks.
• Do not clear away the branches
or brush in or around the
water. Such plant and tree
materials, even when dead,
provide important habitat
elements such as shade,
predator protection, and
rearing and feeding areas for
fish. These features also help
to maintain the stability of
shorelines, stream banks
and channels.





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