New adaptive management strategy for Mountain Caribou habitat

In a joint effort between the BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF), the Ministry of Forest Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNROD), the Arrow Lake Ridge Riders (ALRR) and the Trout Lake Recreation Club (TLRC) a new adaptive land management strategy being referred to as the Central Selkirk Snowmobile Management Area (CSSMA) has been implemented.  The CSSMA has been implemented to preserve and protect the remaining Selkirk Mountain Caribou and habitat in the Trout Lake and Nakusp areas.  

With only 24 animals remaining in the Selkirk herd, the herd has been listed as being under imminent threat of extirpation.  It is apparent that decisive action is going to be required if the herd is going to continue to exist.  There are many factors contributing to the decline of the herd and Government is working to address each of them including predators, habitat, calf recruitment and recreational disturbance from snowmobile or the heli-ski sector.

To minimize disturbance from snowmobiles, MFLNROD recommended a full winter motorized recreational closure in the herd area.  Which sounds scary, but this closure is unique in that a new adaptive management strategy was created and is being tested in this area.  Rather than a full winter backcountry closure for motorized recreation, this initiative will see zones open and closed on a rotating basis based on telemetry locations provided by collared Mountain Caribou.  This allows winter recreation to continue in areas where caribou are not present and protect the habitat they are using.  

This initiative will include a permit that has been issued only to the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders and the Trout Lake Recreational Club.  The terms of the permit for access to ride this area will be that you must be a member in good standing of either the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders or the Trout Lake Recreational Club and you must check the maps daily to obtain the zones that are open to snowmobiling/snowbiking for that day. The closed zones will be monitored by the Conservation Service and local riders will be providing education or outreach.  Anyone who is found to be in a closed zone or not meeting the terms of the permit including membership will face fines.    

To learn more about this initiative, view the map or to join one the local snowmobile clubs please go to www.snowmobileselkirks.ca.  To see the Provincial Government’s press release supporting this project please go to https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019FLNR0283-002345

The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation commends the Arrow Lake Ridge Riders, Trout Lake Recreational Club, the Arrow Lakes Caribou Society and the MFLNROD for their efforts to create this adaptive management strategy.  The BCSF has been advocating for this type of adaptive management strategy for many years and this rotating closure project has the potential to create positive outcomes both for Mountain Caribou and the continued economic benefit of snowmobiling.  It is imperative that all riders comply with this rotating closure and educate other users on the importance of compliance.  Working together to build trust, will facilitate future collaboration for adaptive land management initiatives in Mountain Caribou Habitat.