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Snowmobiling Planning in the South Peace

Get Involved

There are several ways for you to get involved and we need you to do them all!

  1. Go to EngageBC and provide comments directly to the Province of BC.  All comments received will be included in a "what we heard report" and be documented.  Even if the Province does not listen to your recommendations there will be a point in the future where these comments may become important.  It is important that your concerns are documented in the process they have outlined
  2. Review the maps provided on EngageBC and again place pins on areas they have proposed to close and tell them why this area is important to you.  Think in terms of snowmobile opportunities.  Highlight areas where you go when snow is deep, when snow is thin, early season, late season, with the family, for a challenge, when avy conditions are high, when they are low, etc.  It is important that the Province understand that all areas are important and that we use them differently based on who we are with and what the snow conditions are.  Also include pins for enhancements you would like to see.  Perhaps an area that needs trail widened, a new or improved shelters, parking upgrades, road access, etc.
  3. Go to the BCSF change.org petition to the Minister and add your voice.  This is asking the Minister to go back to the table with the Mayors and snowmobile clubs to find solutions.  To be effective we need this to get a lot of signatures.  Share with all your friends because what is snowmobiling today will be hunting, fishing, quading and thier jobs tomorrow.  Supporting the snowmobile sector today is important for all people of the South Peace.  *

Please note that Change.org asks you to donate.  No portion of the money donated comes to the BCSF...it goes to the Change Foundation to support their causes.  

Message from BCSF President

The Draft Winter Motorized Recreation Management  Plan released for public consultation on May 19th, 2021 is not supported by  the BC Snowmobile Federation or science.  Though their documents refer to the snowmobile sector being involved in the drafting of this strategy this plan is a long way from what we recommended.   We have removed ourselves and our clubs from the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee and this plan. 

But we want to be clear we are not opposed to recovering caribou or the shared recovery objective of “immediately stabilizing and expeditiously growing the population of the Central Group to levels that are self-sustaining and support traditional aboriginal harvesting activities, consistent with existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights”.  

We are opposed to how the Province wasted our time pretending that we were creating a winter motorized management plan in the South Peace.  At the time we started our work in 2020 we were clearly told, repeatedly, that there were no lines on a map and as important stakeholders that we were there to inform a draft snowmobile management strategy for the South Peace.   With the plan they just released incorporating almost none of our recommendations it is apparent that 100% closure was the goal and that there were in fact lines on the map.  They should have just gone straight to the public and saved 450 hours and $20,000 dollars of snowmobilers money trying to get it right.  We are concerned that the public consultation will be treated no differently but still feel it is important for the people of BC to document their concerns through EngageBC.  

We are now being told that the communities and politicians in the South Peace are being briefed and told that they could not accept the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SPSAC) recommendations as we were not willing to make the hard decisions. 

Did we make the hard decisions in our report?  You bet we did.  Before we even started making recommendations for closure it was demonstrated that we do not snowmobile in 75% of caribou primary core use habitat that the threshold that caribou needed to prosper was already met.  The Species at Risk threat analysis lists 65% of undisturbed habitat was needed and they had that and were already increasing in herd size.  Still we believed in the objective provided to us and worked to review the 25% where we did have overlap to try to create separation.  Why?  because we wanted to do everything we could to support caribou recovery.    So of that 25% we proposed the closure of 68% of caribou primary core use habitat which was a really hard decision.  That 68% was our highest value area in the region being the terrain at or above treeline.  Our plan brought the protected habitat in the South Peace to 92% and contributed significantly to the recovery objective.  The 8% that we did not identify for closure was to meet our second objective which was to “maintain use of highest value and most unique winter motorized recreation areas and a diverse mix of opportunities in the region”.  These were areas that were important tourism opportunities for the region or provided access to regionally unique opportunities.  Our plan included a comprehensive education package to mitigate interactions and therefore disturbance.

The BC Snowmobile Federation recognizes the importance of snowmobiling not only to the lifestyles of British Columbians but also the economies of rural communities. Areas within the South Peace are no exception to this and are consistently rated as some of the best snowmobiling areas in Canada. The tourism potential of the region for winter recreation has yet to be realized but even today contributes almost 40 million a year, employs 444 people in the region and supports 5 snowmobile dealerships. 

Our objection is that if Government has the goal of closing an area 100% to the people of BC they should be upfront and tell people that.  Since the work started in the South Peace government has not been listening.  They put out the Section 11 Agreement and Partnership Agreement for public consult.  Immediately it was obvious that the people were not in support and felt that this agreement was negotiated behind closed doors.  The Province just attached a "what we heard report" to each agreement and signed them anyway.   Then the  Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery gathered almost 60,000 signatures requesting a proper consultation that included a socio economic study of what their plans were going to do to the economy of the South Peace...still didn't change a thing.  The Premier decided he needed an ally in the region to help him get people on side and appointed Blair Lekstrom to advise him on next steps.  But it is apparent that Mr. Lekstrom also did not  recommend what he wanted to hear which forced him to resign

After all of that, the Province claimed to have realized their mistake and wanted to include stakeholders in the next steps.  They created the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee to provide them formal advice on managing motorized recreation in the South Peace to support caribou recovery.  This committee was the only opportunity the community mayors and snowmobile clubs would be provided into next steps.  Looking back now, I don't know why we were surprised that this had the same outcome as the rest.  Pretend to consult the stakeholders, decide you didn't like what they had to say then attach a "what we heard report" and continue with the plan to close the South Peace completely.  Someone in Victoria believes they know what's best and will just continue to make decisions to support that direction.  Who that someone is, we may never know, but it is obvious they have a lot of decision making power and unless the people across BC stand up to stop what is happening in the South Peace it is only going to continue spreading across BC. 

The 299 million dollars our sport provides to the rural winter economy of BC is being eroded one sham consultation after another.  We are being targeted through caribou recovery plans across BC.  The reality is they need a bad guy and they have chosen us.  The decisions they are making do not improve caribou survival.  They closed a million hectares to snowmobiling in 2007 and not one herd has improved.  That is because snowmobiles do not kill caribou and the threat we pose is listed as low but still they continue to close large tracts of land to snowmobile access and spend the bulk of their budgets on monitoring and enforcement for snowmobiling.  It looks great on paper as they created an action, they implemented that action and they can do regular monitoring reports. Those monitoring reports are not whether caribou have had a positive response but rather compliance reports on snowmobile access.  Closing areas to snowmobilers is done because they have a strong and easy tool to use...don't believe us listen to this Government Biologist explain it himself.    

The draft plan for the South Peace they have released makes it clear it is not about snowmobiling at all.  They have proposed significant snowmobile closures in caribou Summer Range and in areas where herds went extinct years ago.  The threat from snowmobiles as explained to us was disturbance.  In order to create disturbance the snowmobiles and the caribou need to be in the same place at the same time.  This does not occur on a landscape where caribou herds are extirpated (extinct) or that they only use in the summer. 

So our question back to the Province of BC is are you willing to do the hard work and come back to the table with the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee and find a solution that supports caribou recovery and continued snowmobile tourism opportunities that is supported by the people of the South Peace?   

We are calling on all people of the South Peace to support the snowmobile sector by signing our petition to the Minister because your summer recreation, hunting and livelihood is next.  We also encourage you to contact your local town council, MLA and MP.  We have included their contact information on the left.

Sincerely, 

Peter Doyle

BCSF President

 

 

Who is the SPSAC

Mackenzie:

Rocky Mountain Riders

District of Mackenzie

Chetwynd:

Pine Valley Trail Blazers

Tumbler Ridge:

TR Ridge Riders

District of Tumbler Ridge

Dawson Creek:

Paradise Valley Snowmobile Association

Fort St John:

Northland Trail Blazers

City of Fort St John

Taylor:

District of Taylor

Regional:

Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery

Provincial: 

BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF)

Combined time of the people on this committee to develop recomendation report was 450 hours with support of 125 hours of BCSF staff time and the private biologist we hired.

Contact List

We have linked each email address.  Click the red and it will open up an email to them.

Minister Katrine Conroy Phone: (250) 387-6240

MLA Mike Bernier  Phone: (250) 782-3430
MLA Dan Davies  Phone: (250) 263-0101

MLA Mike Morris Phone: (250) 612-4194

MP Bob Zimmer Phone: (250) 719-6848
Email:

Mayor of Chetwynd Phone: (250) 401-4102

Mayor of Tumber Ridge Phone: (250) 242-4242

Mayor of Mackenzie Phone: (250) 997-3221

Mayor of Dawson Creek Phone: (250) 719-7080

Mayor of Fort St John Phone: (250) 787-8150

Government Language for the rest of us

Herd Range - Central Mountain caribou primarily live in three habitat types based on the season: 

  • High elevation winter range (HEWR)– windswept alpine ridges and adjacent subalpine forest
  • Low elevation winter range (LEWR)–Lower boreal and sub-boreal forests used by the Narraway, Quintette and Kennedy Siding herds. 
  • High elevation summer range (HESR) – Alpine and subalpine areas used for calving

This is habitat that has been identified through habitat modelling, elevation criteria and telemetry data.  

For those of us that do not understand what that means...this is the area that Government scientists in Ottawa or Victoria believe should support caribou.  It is important to note that does not mean that caribou use this habitat it just looks like they should use.  

You will see these terms through Governments proposed plan.  They based their approach on protecting what they think caribou should use and not what they actually are using today.   

Kernel Density Data- KDE analysis is a widely accepted scientific modelling approach used to identify core habitat.  It uses Radio and Satellite collar data to identify areas where caribou are present most often.  It is broken down to the following: 

  • Primary Core Use Area – KDE 50 – The smallest area that contains 50% of a collared caribou’s telemetry locations within a specified period of time. KDE 50 is the area that is most frequently occupied by collared caribou.
  • Secondary Core Use Area – KDE 75 – The smallest area that contains 75% of a collared caribou’s telemetry locations within a specified period of time.
  • Occupancy Area - KDE 95 (Home Range) – The smallest area that contains 95% of a collared caribou’s telemetry locations within a specified period of time. 

The SPSAC used KDE data that reflected where caribou are today in our report.  We reviewed data from the last five years to ensure our planning was current and Government provided this data to us as being the best representation of where caribou are today. 

Disturbance - The threat as explained to the SPSAC is that caribou may abandon good habitat to move into poor habitat or down into valley bottoms to where predator interactions may occur.  While collar data did not support disturbance and there was evidence of coexistence today the committee accepted the possibility it could happen and worked to plan for separation. 

Government acknowledges and science supports that snowmobiles do not kill caribou and the Species at Risk threat assessment lists snowmobiling as a low threat.  

Direct Management Measure - Regulate and control visitors behaviours and remove the visitors ability to choose.  Ie closure.  These can include full closure, Partial or seasonal closure, and active management areas(areas open that will close if caribou present) 

The SPSAC recommended that 68% of caribou primary core use habitat in our snowmobile areas be managed through a Direct Management Measure. Adding to a total of 92% of occupied habitat being protected from snowmobile disturbance.

Adaptive Management -  The SPSAC recommended that active monitoring of applied management actions should occur, should be reviewed annually, and adjusted as new information, data and knowledge emerges or disturbances on the landscape that reduce caribou recovery values occur.

Why did we recommend this?  The planning lens for snowmobiling can literally be a day, week, month, or year.  We can snowmobile there today and not tomorrow as proven by the Selkirks Snowmobile Management Area.  This is why the SPSAC recommended adaptive management as being a core principle.  Plan for the future in the future.  Instead the Province has used the term adaptive management as a punitive tool which only triggers down to closing more areas.  But being truly adaptive would recognize that snowmobiles do not damage or alter habitat and therefore we do not need apply a 100 year planning lens. We should adapt our access as caribou needs change, technology changes, and the habitat changes. We should be able to adapt snowmobile access when things like pine beetle, forest fires, moose & deer populations, snow depth, maternity pens, predator numbers, number of collars, snowmobile technology, industrial projects and Aboriginal harvest starts.  We wanted the areas to be reviewed regularly and snowmobile access adapted to what was happening on the landscape. If they move into an area,  we can move out and move into the area they left. If an area is logged it should be opened back up to snowmobiling until it regenerates to a point that sustains caribou again. 


Here is the graphic provided to the SPSAC to help us with management decisions.  Seems strange they are now saying that LE and HE is what needs to be considered for Direct Management Action.