The Brandon Hills
The Brandon Hills WMA presents a different set of opportunities and challenges.
The first thing one might notice is that vehicles are not allowed. The effect of that restriction is obvious. Litter is almost non-existant except for a spot close to the parking lot that might attract partiers. Partiers and litterers don't seem too keen on walking any distance, so most of the area is in its natural state except for the well marked trails.
There are a few lesson to learned here. As I might have mentioned, allowing vehicles invites damage and littering. And the very fact that the area is busy with people who like to walk, run, ski and bike makes it less likely that the eco-vandalism we see in other places will be prevalent. Nothing spoils the fun of bad people like a watchful crowd of good people.
We need to apply these lessons to other WMA's. Aside from more appropritae restrictions, actively promoting healthy activites along with the natural beauty of selected WMA's and thus drawing people who value those activites, will help safegaurd the area against damaging activities.
This should be done at historically and ecol;ogically significant sites such as Souris Mouth and Souris Bend. They are being underused, laving them open for abuse.
The more people you have in an area who respect nature - the safer that area will be.
There is a sign, curiously placed at a little-used access point on the northeast side.
Both restrictions are nearly impossible to enforce. Vehicle tracks are everywhere. But the thought is good.
Vehicles are clearly (and physically) barred at the main entrance - but there is no mention there about firearms. Instead, hikers are warned to us bright clothing during hunting season.
We've been hiking there for decades and there are more people out there every year. It is conveniently close to Brandon and well-known, especially to bikers and cross country skiers.
It is a pleasant place to be but most of us stay away in hunting season - which takes up a nice part of the late fall.
One wonders if hunting is appropriate in an area so widely used. Perhaps it should be re-purposed in some way.
Across the province there are several alternative efforts at preserving natural areas and protecting habitat. The Nature Consevancy and the Manitoba Habitant Heritage Corporation. Virtually all of them prohibit vehicle use. Perhaps the Brandon Hills WMA,or at least a portion of it is not suited to being a WMA?