The BCSF submits comments to the Province of BC in response to South Peace Draft Management Plan see more
The BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) and our member clubs participated in developing the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SPSAC) Recommendation Report that was delivered to the Province in February 2021. This report was a culmination of over 400 hours of time and $20,000 in BCSF member funds. We stand behind the recommendations of this report and are submitting this report in its entirety as our response to the draft management plan that is currently circulating. We request that the Province refer to the maps in our report that provided for the protection of 92% of occupied habitat in the South Peace and allow the members of the SPSAC to be true partners with you in Caribou Recovery.
The SPSAC was tasked with finding a balanced approach that supported caribou recovery and continued snowmobile access. The SPSAC focussed our recommendations on occupied habitat and included a core principle for Adaptive Management whereby public access is adjusted seasonally or temporarily when caribou are not present. This allowed for the communities to continue to grow snowmobile tourism without impacting caribou recovery. Snowmobiling does not alter habitat, there has been no evidence of a snowmobile trail leading to a predation event in the South Peace, and today the collar data collected by the Province provides no evidence of habitat abandonment due to snowmobilers.
In addition to submitting our report in its entirety we are also submitting the following direct comments on areas that the Province has not addressed:
- Legal Establishment of Snowmobile Polygons: The legal establishment of all snowmobile areas that remain open must be included as an immediate next step. These applications need to be fast-tracked as it is our understanding that Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) is no longer considering new applications. A typical application has been taking five to seven years to process which is not acceptable. The clubs in this region that have been trying to get their trails established have continued to be pushed off until the caribou planning process was started. We believe that if you can implement a closure in less than six months then the protection and clear definition of what remains open should also be able to occur in that timeframe.
These areas must be established as recreational polygons and include the access trails, the grandfathering of existing cabins, and approval for new shelters or parking infrastructure required as part of the enhancement funds. The Province should then enter into Partnership Agreements with the snowmobile clubs in each community to ensure the continued management of these areas long-term for public benefit. Without this establishment of the entire polygon there is no legal recognition on the landscape of our usage and we will see our remaining areas further eroded through other land planning processes.
- Industrial pressure requires additional FRPA Objectives to be set: The snowmobile closures proposed align directly with the boundaries of the Industrial Moratorium, as such, it would appear that this will lead to increased pressure on the remaining land base below 1200M. This will put public recreation areas directly overlapping industrial work sites and roads. Therefore the legal establishment of the recreation polygons should include site-level objectives requiring forest licensees to communicate with recreation stakeholders and define mitigation strategies for the protection of public recreation resources including:
- The alpine and coniferous forest features along recreation sites or trails will be retained to preserve the outdoor recreation experience and prevent early season melt on snowmobile trails.
- Forest planning will include safety considerations for recreational access during the winter months and after harvesting is complete. This will include harvest planning consideration above and below a recreation site or trail to ensure that new exposures and avalanche paths are not created. Or that any new avalanche paths are mitigated by terrain modifications such as deflection berms.
- This recreation site or trail is part of the working forest, and as such, activities that are likely to impact access or the recreation experience need to be communicated with the Designated Partner on the trail at least six months in advance.
- Access must be protected: All access routes into areas that remain open must be protected and in most cases improved to allow safe access to what remains. This will require a commitment from many decision-makers and budget considerations across departments. We need a commitment that the Province will manage all the decisions and provide an adequate budget to ensure areas that remain open can be safely accessed by snowmobilers long term. This includes:
- Forestry Roads for access or part of trail networks will need to be established by the Province as a provincial responsibility and an adequate budget allocated to ensure that they are safe for winter passage including replacing bridges, repairing unstable slopes, water damage, etc must all be mitigated, repaired or replaced. It is not ok to come back a year later and remove a road to an open snowmobile area because the Province does not have the budget to replace a bridge.
- All restoration work will need to be done in close consultation with the snowmobile clubs in the area with clear details and commitment/assurance provided in writing that restoration work is not further limiting access or removing active trails in areas that have remained open. That is not enough to ensure that future restoration work that is contracted out or done by industry as part of their deactivation of roads or lineal lines will not further limit our access. It needs to be a firm commitment that someone within Government will ensure that the snowmobile access will remain open across departments and Ministries. The snowmobile clubs cannot be responsible to track and try to manage multiple consultations across Ministries. Government knows we are there, has committed to keeping these areas open for the continued economic benefit of the communities in the region, and therefore needs to commit to managing all processes that could further limit snowmobiling in the region.
- Enhancement Budget Needs to be Confirmed: Increased traffic to these areas will be immediate and therefore any approvals and subsequent infrastructure development must be completed prior to December 1st of this year. Enhancement funding needs to be confirmed immediately and amounts for the next five years shared with the snowmobile clubs. Once known, the clubs should meet with the Province to prioritize projects and begin implementation of key tasks focused on managing capacity, economic benefit, and safety immediately
The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation does not support the current plan as circulated with sentiment echoed by the eight thousand signatures collected by the public. The Province’s draft plan has taken the precautionary principle and used a long planning lens with no consideration of the secondary objective, which was for snowmobiling to remain viable. The SPSAC focussed on creating a comprehensive plan reactive to where caribou are and adapting public access regularly to maintain separation as herds grow and habitat usage changes. The Province’s plan, however, is to apply a blanket closure of lands to the public whether caribou are present or not, and use punitive means to gain compliance. What the Province’s plan fails to acknowledge is that, according to the science, snowmobiling is considered a low threat to the herds and should only be managed where access is considered pervasive. In the South Peace, on today’s landscape, the number of riders is low and spread across the region which prevents snowmobiling from being considered pervasive in any one area. With this plan that will change.
It is our position that the members of the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee diligently completed the work that was requested of us in the Terms of Reference and now ask the Province to follow through and review that work to ensure that quality snowmobile opportunities remain. Closing 1 million hectares completely to recreational snowmobiling in the South has not provided any improvements to the herds but has directly impacted the economy of many communities and provided much financial burden to snowmobile clubs that are now trying to manage a growing sport with much less available terrain.
This plan will not be successful without the support of the BC Snowmobile Federation, the snowmobile clubs, the riders, and the communities they support. So we again ask the Province to follow due-process: review the recommendations forwarded in the SPSAC report, and implement the plan presented outlining the protection of 92% of occupied habitat with a strong adaptive management principle establishing the clubs as partners. This collaborative effort will allow us to stand with you in support of your work and assist the province in the implementation of a successful caribou recovery initiative in the South Peace.
Snowmobile access near Trout Lake and the BC Snowmobile Federation’s concern see more
The community of Trout Lake has created a Change.org petition to try to stop the removal of the Rady Creek FSR. We need the snowmobilers of the Trout Lake region to go sign this petition.
The BCSF also sent the following via email on May 26, 2021. We received a response that government staff would follow up with us and they have not. Therefore, on June 7, 2021 we have sent a follow up email escalating this to Katrine Conroy as the Minister responsible.
Good afternoon MLA Katrine Conroy,
We are writing to you today regarding snowmobile access near Trout Lake and the BC Snowmobile Federation’s concern that the Provincial Government’s employees do not appear to be negotiating in good faith with the public in this instance.
The BC Snowmobile Federation and our member clubs, Trout Lake Recreational Club and the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders (Naksup), have signed a Stewardship Management Agreement (SMA) with the Province for caribou recovery in the Selkirk region. This agreement was signed on March 24, 2021 by the Province of BC and each of our clubs. This was a culmination of over two year's work with several stakeholder and public community consultation meetings. This is an important project for caribou recovery as well as the snowmobile community, as it uses real time location of caribou to manage snowmobile access to minimize potential disturbance. The BCSF and our clubs have been strong supporters and partners on this project and here is a copy of our press release as well as that of the Province when this project launched. We strongly believe in this project and continue to host the website www.snowmobileselkirks.ca, attend planning meetings, work to improve communications and invest in our technology to support this project long term.
Part of the SMA negotiated with Trout Lake Recreational Club includes an area that is important to the community of Trout Lake. Our riders refer to it as Foggy Day but in the SMA it is referred to as the zones within the Silver Cup Ridge. This area was specifically negotiated to remain open in the SMA under “Model Exemption Rules” because of its value to the community of Trout Lake. This was done in exchange for the neighboring Area “American Creek” being always closed. The Government staff that worked with us in the development of this unique SMA assured the community of Trout Lake, at an open public meeting, that Silver Cup Ridge would remain open and he backed that assertion up by creating a specific exemption rule for this area in the SMA he drafted.
Yet here we are. The SMA was signed on March 24 of this year and a month later we found out the Province is planning to deactivate Rady Creek Forest Service Road (FSR). Our member club was not formally notified or consulted on this but learned about it from another concerned user. The Rady Creek FSR represents our sole access into the zones referred to as Silver Cup Ridge. We immediately reached out to our Government contact with whom we negotiated the SMA to ensure he was aware and to find ways for snowmobile access to continue. We were surprised that the response we got back from him was that he not only knew about it, but also supported the removal of this road to support caribou recovery. His response back was that the area remains open but that we did not negotiate access to the area as part of our SMA planning meetings.
To the BC Snowmobile Federation this is shocking as I know it will be to the community of Trout Lake once this is made public. It is our hope, as MLA for the community of Trout Lake, that you will assist us in finding solutions whereby snowmobile access remains for Silver Cup Ridge as promised and that we can find a way to work together to address engineering concerns. We believe the road can be deactivated to an extent that meets their concerns without completely removing snowmobile access.
I am available to meet via zoom or telephone if you would like to discuss this further.
BCSF Executive Director
The South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee has submitted their recommendation report to the ProvinceShows a strong desire to recover caribou while maintaining quality opportunities for snowmobiling see more
Caribou Recovery & Snowmobile Management in the South Peace
Keremeos, BC (February 3rd 2021) -- The Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou have been listed as threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. The Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada, West Moberly First Nation and Saulteau First Nation developed and endorsed the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group to the Southern Mountain Caribou (Partnership Agreement) on February 21, 2020. This agreement sets out the actions that the signatories will take to achieve 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”.
Many of the most popular snowmobiling areas in the South Peace overlap important caribou habitat. Though not the primary driver of caribou population decline, snowmobiling can create undesirable impacts on caribou by disturbing or displacing animals to lower quality habitat. Recognizing this, the Partnership Agreement committed the province to Clause 37 which outlines the commitment for the consultation of technical experts, first nations, local governments and snowmobile clubs to inform the design and implementation of a winter motorized recreation management plan to mitigate disturbance and displacement of caribou. This clause created the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SPSAC) and enabled it to be involved with the development of management options for winter motorized recreation access.
The attached “Caribou Recovery & Snowmobile Management in the South Peace” is the recommendations of the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SPSAC) which included the BC Snowmobile Federation, the snowmobile clubs in the South Peace, local communities, and the Concerned Citizens for Caribou Recovery. In total the committee members attended 13 meetings, which were a combination of in person and virtual meetings, and committee members dedicated more than 450 hours of volunteer time to this process.
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 scope of this report 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.
The BC Snowmobile Federation believes that the attached recommendations developed by the SPSAC show a strong desire to recover caribou while maintaining quality opportunities for snowmobiling in the South Peace. The data reviewed during the creation of this report included current herd data and habitat usage for the last five years to ensure that recommendations were current and relevant. The Committee felt strongly that Adaptive Management needed to be a core principle of any management plan going forward to ensure that changes in landscape, herd movement and snowmobile usage can all be reviewed regularly.
Now that the SPSAC report has been delivered to the decision makers we hope that our recommendations will be given weighted consideration in the development of the winter motorized recreation management plan for the region. This plan is a small part of a much larger and complicated recovery plan needed to help the Government meet its objective of creating self-sustaining populations of caribou to support traditional aboriginal harvesting activities. Managing snowmobiling alone will not achieve this objective but the BC Snowmobile Federation Clubs will continue to be leaders in caribou recovery and support the province in its efforts to restore Southern Mountain Caribou to self-sustaining populations across British Columbia.
The BC Snowmobile Federation is a non-profit society created in 1965 to establish, maintain and protect quality opportunities for organized snowmobiling in BC. The BCSF collectively represents 60 snowmobile clubs and 44,000 riders in the Province of BC. On the ground, our member clubs are non-profit societies maintained by caring volunteers who promote safety, stewardship, and responsible backcountry snowmobile recreation.
A new adaptive land management strategy for caribou has been implemented in the Selkirk Region see more
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.
Nothing brings us greater joy than to share our amazing backcountry with others! see more
Nothing brings us greater joy than to share our amazing backcountry with others from around the world. There are a few things to know before you head out on your snowmobile or snowbike adventure. Preparation truly is key.
Many parts of British Columbia have the potential for Avalanche hazards. It is important to prepare by ensuring you have the appropriate equipment and training. Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 is recommended as a minimum level of education for riding in the mountains of BC. Many educators are circulating through the prairie provinces and states offering classroom portions of AST 1 and avalanche awareness seminars with several dealerships hosting free events. This is a great way to prepare for riding in BC while meeting other like-minded riders. To help familiarize yourself with avalanche safety Avalanche Canada offers an online tutorial to walk you through the basics.
The basic necessities for backcountry riding in BC are an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe worn on your person. Your backpack will have what you need to survive overnight, including hydration, food rations, extra gloves, a saw, and multiple ways to start a fire. Here’s an excellent article from our friends at Zacs Tracs What to pack in your snowmobile backpack
Equipment can be rented from several locations the province, and hiring a guide is always a great idea when traveling in unfamiliar terrain. Certified guides will keep you safe and sound, and probably take you into some secret honey holes where you’ll find fresh untouched white gold.
Plan a Successful Adventure
Trip Planning is also a key component to adventuring in BC. Avalanche Canada is a wonderful resource for not only checking the avalanche forecast before you head out for the day, it also has numerous resources including an interactive trip planning app to guide you through the process. It’s imperative that you notify someone not in your riding group of your plans, when to expect you home, the area you are riding, and who is in your party. Should you be delayed it will give Search and Rescue volunteers a better chance of finding you in a timely manner. In addition to checking the avalanche forecast, check the weather forecast which will also provide vital information for planning your ride. The Never Lost Trails app is a wonderful resource for planning your trip and backcountry navigation. This app will turn your cellular device into a trail navigation tool even where cell service is unavailable.
What to Wear
Layering is incredibly important, for certain parts of our province like the Kootenays, Vancouver Island, Vancouver Coast and Mountains, and the Thompson Okanagan areas can have mild temperatures year-round, while our northern areas can experience colder temperatures with beautiful blower powder to enjoy. Cotton is a huge no-no, for it will absorb sweat like a sponge leaving you cold and damp for your day’s adventure. Here is a great article on layering. Dressed for Success
Crossing the Border into Canada
For those of you visiting from out of country it’s important to have your passport, and proper documentation for your truck, snowmobile and trailer. You’ll need snowmobile registration, trailer registration showing proof of ownership. Keep all the documents together in your vehicle making it easy to access upon border crossing. If you have any criminal history including DUI’s, you’ll need a pardon before entering the province. Don’t even try to sneak on through, for you’ll be red flagged and denied entry if the officers find you untruthful. Here is a great resource with more information on crossing the border into Canada ezbordercrossing.com
Snowmobile Registration and Insurance
While BC is known as the wild west we do have some laws that everyone must abide. You must wear a helmet while operating your snowmobile. There are requirements for third party liability insurance in some cases and your snowmobile must be registered in your home province or state. If you cannot register at home than you must be able to provide proof of ownership of your snowmobile. Finally, you must have picture ID on you at all times while snowmobiling. More information can be found in this FAQ Document.
Wildlife of British Columbia
We have an abundance of wildlife in our backcountry. It’s important to not only enjoy the beauty of these animals, it’s also equally as important to stay safe in their vicinity. Here is an article to help you and our wildlife stay safe during your adventures. Wild Adventures. It is your responsibility to what areas are closed to snowmobiling in BC. Many parks do not allow snowmobiling and we do have several areas closed to protect Mountain Caribou Habitat. Please research the area or reach out to the local snowmobile club for background if you are not using a guide.
Support Organized Snowmobiling
Support the sport and one of our hard working clubs with either your membership purchase, or a trail pass. These British Columbia Snowmobile Federation Clubs (BCSF) are the backbone of organized snowmobiling in BC. They groom and maintain trail systems and cabins, and they are the driving force to prevent land closures. Your dollars are vital for their success. Online memberships are available on the BCSF website. www.bcsf.org/clubs
Here are some additional links to help you plan your British Columbia Adventure! Thank you for staying and playing in BC.
Riders in their trip planning meeting before heading out for a ride in Valemount, BC
Snowmobilers please take the time to assist with this important Moose Program. see more
Updated May 3, 2018
The Moose Winter Tick Surveillance Program is now closed (as of May 1st) until the following winter. If you still have surveys or observations of moose from prior to the closing date, please submit those as soon as possible. A huge thanks to everyone who participated in the program this year or helped spread the word. This year was highly successful, surpassing the number of moose observations reported during last year’s program. Without your help, this program would not be possible.
For more information, or to submit your final surveys, please visit the following website. The final report for the 2018 Program will be posted here shortly: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animals-ecosystems/wildlife/wildlife-health/wildlife-health-matters/moose-health/moose-winter-tick-survey
Thanks again, and we look forward to next year.
January 11, 2018
We are contacting you regarding the BC Moose Winter Tick Surveillance program, as this is the first e-mail of 2018 to kick-off our fourth year! If you have not heard of the program before, the information below outlines what this program is all about. We are reaching out to the BC Snowmobile Federation because we hope you can spread the word about this important program. It would be appreciated if you could distribute this e-mail to anyone that will be spending time outside in the winter/spring. We welcome you to share the message below on websites, social media platforms and/or in newsletters, as well as the poster (see attachment).
If you are interested in supporting the Moose Winter Tick Surveillance program and would like updates, please reply to this e-mail and we will add you to the e-mail list.
For those of you who are new to the program:
The BC Wildlife Health Program is looking for help from wildlife professionals, wildlife enthusiasts and the general public with observations of hair loss caused by “Winter Ticks” on moose throughout the province. The Moose Winter Tick Surveillance Program wants to collect observations to monitor the number of animals with hair loss and the amount of hair loss on each animal to estimate winter tick prevalence and distribution. This program occurs on an annual basis. Winter ticks are a significant parasite for moose populations and can contribute to moose declines in parts of their range, including BC. So, it is an important health factor to monitor, particularly with climate change and alterations to moose habitat. The findings of the surveillance program will contribute to the Provincial Moose Research Program, which was initiated in 2013 to investigate factors influencing moose populations in BC. This is the fourth year of the program; last year we received 330 reports of moose from across the province.
Winter tick infestations can be observed on moose during January through April. The ticks spend the entire winter on one moose and there can be as many as tens of thousands on one individual. As the female ticks become adults they feed on blood in late winter and the irritation causes moose to scratch and groom themselves excessively, resulting in hair loss. The extent of the hair loss is a rough indicator of how many ticks are present and can be observed easily from a distance. We know that tick infestations can result in behavioral changes or direct health impacts that may reduce moose survival.
We hope that you may be interested in contributing to this surveillance program by recording your observations of both healthy and infected moose during the winter and spring.
IMPORTANT – HOW TO SUBMIT A SURVEY:
There are several methods of documenting moose winter tick observations. Please choose the methods that are most convenient for you.
- An online survey. Simply go to www.gov.bc.ca/wildlifehealth/mooseticksurvey and click on “Complete the online form” on the right side of the page.
- An electronic .PDF version of the moose winter tick survey that can be filled in on your computer and returned via email. Please find the survey attached to this email or you can download the form from the website above.
- An electronic .PDF version of the moose winter tick survey that can be filled in on your mobile device and/or tablet. Please download the free Acrobat Reader App for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows devices. On your mobile device, please download the survey attached to this email or from the website above and open the survey using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Please return all completed surveys to: FLNRMooseTickSurvey@gov.bc.ca
If you would prefer to receive paper hard-copies of the survey, please email us with your mailing address and we will send surveys to you promptly.
If at any time you find yourself having trouble with downloading, using or sending the survey form, or even for general questions, please feel free to contact us using the contact information below.
It would be great if you could carry this survey with you while you are out in the field this winter/spring when tick infestations become visible. Please document all moose observations, from January 1, 2018 to April 30, 2018, regardless of hair loss or not.
Your participation is greatly appreciated!
For more information, or to receive a survey, please contact us at:
The BC Snowmobile Federation responds to the latest attack on our sport! see more
Yesterday the Valhalla Wilderness Society did a press release attacking snowmobiling! It blames the government for their inability to manage us as a user group for the failed Mountain Caribou Recovery Plan (MCRIP). In typical fashion this private interest group that is dedicated to turning BC into a park just pulled parts of reports that support their position and skipped the true story. From this attack we can only assume that their primary objective is to erase snowmobiling from the Backcountry of BC. You can read the full Press Release here:
The BC Snowmobile Federation has responded to this release here:
From these two documents CBC has created a one sided story that perpetuates the myth that there is any correlation between snowmobilers and caribou decline. They want headlines
If you want to read more about Governments efforts on the MCRIP please read:
This attack is just the latest in many. There are groups out there that do not want to share the backcountry. They believe that their form of recreation is better than others and therefore want the sandbox to themselves. They use issues like Caribou to help meet their objective.
If you want to fight for your right to use the backcountry please join your local BC Snowmobile Club and add your voice against these groups!
Some quick facts:
- Snowmobilers have invested thousands of dollars and volunteer hours into saving the Mountain Caribou.
- We have played by the rules even while we watch all other recreation and industry continue in this "critical habitat"
- There are six objectives to the MCRIP that the science team deemed to be necessary for the program to successful. To date government has not been able to implement all six at the same time due to public pressure. The same people that want to save the caribou also are not willing to authorize government to do the targeted predator control recommended by the science team.
- This has left recreational closures as an action that Government can use to show they are doing something.
- Nothing Government has done to date has changed the rate of decline.
- Mountain Caribou that live in parks are declining at the same rate or a little higher than caribou in the rest of the Province.
- Government Ministries do not all buy in to the MCRIP as Forestry continues to harvest critical habitat and BC Parks will not due predator control in a Park.
- You can ask any Biologist, any sledder, any person in Government why the caribou populations are declining and they will tell you it is due to predators.
- Why is perceived disturbance by motorized recreation an issue for Government because they believe it could cause the caribou to cross a valley bottom where the predators are. Caribou are a species that migrate long distances as their needs change throughout a season. Crossing a valley bottom is something that should be expected from a species that used to migrate from the Quesnel Highlands all the way south to the US Border.
- Add to this our riders are seeing an increase in the number of caribou moving from protected areas into snowmobile areas. These caribou are living in heavily snowmobiled areas by choice and it has become the elephant in the room as snowmobilers fear more closures.
Stewardship Management Agreement signed between the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club and the BC Government see moreFor Immediate Release
June 2, 2016
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Cranbrook snowmobilers work to protect caribou
CRANBROOK ʹ A stewardship management agreement between the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will help protect endangered mountain caribou from snowmobilers.
One of the key elements of the Province͛s Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan is managing recreation to reduce human disturbance in mountain caribou habitat. This includes closing areas to snowmobile use.
Under the terms of the stewardship management agreement, the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club and the ministry will be jointly responsible for marking boundaries of the closure areas and will also share compliance monitoring duties and monitoring results. The Conservation Officer Service will be responsible for enforcing the legal closures under the Wildlife Act.
The effectiveness of voluntary closures will also be monitored and both parties will work together to resolve any issues. Snowmobilers also need to avoid areas within two kilometres of a known or suspected location of caribou until the caribou have vacated the area.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations ʹ
͞The Cranbrook Snowmobile Club has been a consistent volunteer partner with the ministry on caribou habitat stewardship in the southern Purcells. Now with this formal agreement, we can strengthen our work to protect caribou and provide opportunities for the public to snowmobile in the area.͟
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, and MLA for Kootenay East ʹ
͞This agreement proves what I've always believed: that the vast majority of motorized recreationalists care as much for the environment as anyone does. Congratulations to the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club for your leadership.͟
Doug Hogg, president of the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club ʹ
͞The Cranbrook Snowmobile Club is pleased to sign our first stewardship management agreement, which is one way that snowmobilers can aid in the recovery of mountain caribou populations in the southern Purcells. This agreement is a result of a collaborative effort between the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Club members will be educating snowmobilers on where to ride and how to respect the caribou in their habitat. The club has also established non-snowmobiling areas, which will be patrolled by volunteers throughout the snowmobile season.͟
In October 2007, the provincial government endorsed the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan. Under the Wildlife Act, more than onemillion hectares have been closed to snowmobile use to protect mountain caribou habitat.
To learn more about mountain caribou and recovery actions, visit:
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural
Left to right: John Krebs- Director of Resource Management, FLNRO, Doug Hogg - Director with the BC Snowmobile Federation, Bill Bennett, Mike Plant- President Cranbrook Snowmobile Club - Paul Rasmussen - Regional Executive Director FLNRO
Snowmobilers saddened by the latest census data released for the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou Herd see more
April 13, 2018
Snowmobilers saddened by the latest census data released for the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou Herd
Creston, BC, April 13, 2018:The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) is deeply saddened to learn that only three Mountain Caribou cows remain of the South Selkirk herd located near Creston BC. We understand that these three animals were captured, collared and have had blood samples taken to test for pregnancy then released back into the wild. The future is uncertain for these animals, and we hope that all efforts will be made to prevent their mortality and the continued decline of Mountain Caribou in British Columbia.
This development further supports the fact that science-based conservation is necessary for all conservation initiatives. When human emotion rather than science dictates the direction of conservation efforts, the long-term lack of effectiveness will always be the end result. Predator management is just one example of a conservation strategy that was severely delayed due to public outcry and celebrity involvement leaving the South Selkirk Mountain Caribou Herd vulnerable to predation for far too long.
Some special interest groups will cry for the securing of more land, stating that industry and recreation have led to the demise of the South Selkirk Herd. With 80% of historical habitat for this herd already protected from recreation and resource extraction it is clear that habitat is not the reason for the decline.
The reality of the situation is, unless we all work together, stop pointing fingers, looking for scapegoats and implement science based conservation, little will be left of our environment, and wildlife for future generations to experience.
We would like to extend our gratitude to our member clubs in the South Selkirk area. The Kokanee Country Snowmobile Club and the Nelson SnoGoers have worked hard to secure compliance in sensitive caribou closure areas for many years. The closures along the Kootenay Pass where this herd is located has experienced 100% snowmobile compliance this season according to the Conservation Officers Service. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Creston and Ymir volunteers who provided snowmobile support to the Caribou Maternity pen project located at Darkwoods this Spring. Although the project was cancelled due to the large volumes of snow that fell impeding any hope of utilizing the pen, your efforts were appreciated by everyone involved.
We will continue to be partners with the Province to assist in conservation efforts and ensure that decisions be made based on science and in the best interest of the caribou herds. We will also continue to provide a voice for our sport to ensure that the British Columbia backcountry will be enjoyed for generations to come.
The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) is a non-profit organization that has been operating in BC for more than 53 years and currently represents 43,000 users and 60 member snowmobile clubs throughout the Province. As an organization we are dedicated to providing strong leadership and support to our member clubs to establish, maintain and protect quality opportunities for organized snowmobiling in British Columbia and to promote the safe and environmentally responsible use of those opportunities.
British Columbia Snowmobile Federation
Please take 30 minutes and complete this questionnaire see more
The Province of BC and Federal Government are working on initiatives to conserve, protect, and recover caribou herds throughout the province. The Peace River Regional District (PPRD) Board is seeking to understand how caribou conservation efforts could affect economic development and tourism/recreation opportunities in the region and has retained Stantec Consulting Ltd. (Stantec) to undertake an economic impact assessment.
As part of its economic impact assessment, Stantec is conducting phone interviews and/or email questionnaires with interested groups and agencies potentially affected by the proposed conservation efforts to properly understand existing local conditions related to outdoor recreation and tourism. Specifically, Stantec would like to collect information on popular areas for outdoor recreation activities (e.g. snowmobiling, back country skiing, water-based recreation activities), usage patterns, and the importance of recreational tourism to the local economy.
If you are interested in completing the email questionnaire, please find it attached along with a map (to assist with response to one of the questions). To indicate usage areas on the map, please use digital sticky notes in Adobe PDF or feel free to print out, and mark up a hard copy, attaching an image or scan of the marked up map. Please return the completed questionnaire and map by way of email on or before November 26, 2018. The questionnaire should take approximately 30 minutes or less.
The BC Snowmobile Federation reviewed the draft Section 11 Agreement and submitted our comments see more
B.C. and Canada have been developing a bilateral conservation agreement under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act (referred to as the “Section 11 Agreement”). The draft Section 11 Agreement contains overarching commitments, measures and strategies for the recovery of Southern Mountain Caribou in B.C.
The BC Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) reviewed the draft agreement and submitted the attached comments to Government on behalf of BCSF Member Clubs.
The top five key points from our response were:
- Herd Plans– We believe that we need to change our thinking on Caribou Recovery and focus on herds with the highest chance of recovery. While the BCSF supports the development of individual herd plans and plans to participate in the process, we continue to challenge why the focus of recovery efforts is on herds that are facing extirpation in the near future. The herd plans and recovery actions should be started for the largest herds first
- Baseline Herd Counts-We believe that the baseline data of counts for each herd must be included in the Agreement. It will therefore hold all parties accountable to the starting point, make goal setting clear, reporting of progress consistent, transparent and measurable for all.
- Incrementally increase Southern Mountain Caribou Habitat over the course of the Agreement. We are concerned with the continued focus on habitat protection and there is no definition of what the end goal is or what percentage of increase is expected. We believe that habitat protection should be based on science and the individual needs of each herd and the habitat needs assessed through the proposed herd planning. By making a blanket commitment to incrementally increase habitat it appears to be less about caribou recovery and more about Canada’s Target 1.
- Self Sustaining–We believe that the Principles of this Agreement need to be amended to remove the objective of achieving self-sustaining populations. The definition of a self-sustaining population is one that is able to continue by itself without anyone or anything else becoming involved. We believe that the goal should be a net increase in population or targets that are achievable not a statement such as “self-sustaining” which is not realistic or obtainable.
- Engagement with Indigenous People- This section only refers to engagement and consultation as it pertains to directly affected indigenous people. It does not include the rest of the British Columbians that live, work and recreate within the Agreement area. We believe that everyone must be included because it will take more than one segment of the population to facilitate positive change for the species overall and everyone needs take ownership of the recovery measures being proposed.
To read the full response letter that was submitted please open the attached file.
BCSF provides comments on the Draft Partnership Agreement Between B.C., Canada, West Moberly and Saulteau First NationsThe BCSF reviewed the draft Partnership Agreement and submitted our comments to Government see more
The B.C. government, the federal government, West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations have been negotiating an Inter-Governmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group of the Southern Mountain Caribou (“Partnership Agreement”). The draft Partnership Agreement applies to the Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou in the South Peace.
The BCSF reviewed the draft agreement and submitted the attached comments to Government on behalf of BCSF Member Clubs.
The top five key points of our response are:
- Term of Agreement should be five years-It is apparent in reading the Agreement that the proposed 30 year term does not match the actions laid out in the Agreement. The terms and schedules to the Agreement are short term or immediate in scope and much of the language is referencing items to be developed, possible projects to be considered, targets to be determined, temporary committees, interim measures and schedules that only apply to implementation of the Agreement of itself. We think that the Parties need to embrace that this is new ground and instead use this agreement as the stepping stone to the creation of a long-term vision on caribou recovery with broad public support.
- Managing motorized recreation– We are concerned the Agreements includes an action to implement the Central Group Caribou Motor-Vehicle Closure Engagement Plan. Our concern is based on that we have asked for a copy of this plan and have been told that the document has not been finalized nor can it be shared as of closing of this consultation period. So we do not know what we agreeing to or commenting on.
- The Klinse-za Park expansion- The current Klinse-za Park is listed as “Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) being prohibited in the existing park. ORVs include ATVs, off-road motorcycles, snowmobiles and side-by-sides.” The wording to expand the park without including this key piece of information makes it unclear to us and the public of the Parties intention to make zone B3 a non-motorized area. The expansion of this park effectively removes snowmobiling from two high value snowmobile areas to the community of Chetwynd and will not include the snowmobile sector in reviewing this action or its boundaries.
- Habitat Restoration Projects –They are planning to undertake restoration projects but the list of projects has not been provided. Habitat Restoration and lineal line removal can seriously impact snowmobile access but does not seem to have any requirement for consultation. By removing access to an area you do effectively close the area without a requirement to consult impacted users. This results in forcing the public onto unsafe access trails or can result in illegal trail building.
- Public Consultation-The agreement states that all consultation must be completed within four months of the initialing of this Agreement. We have been told that the Agreement was initialed on March 1, 2019 which makes the end of public engagement to be June 30th. With the public consultation sessions that were held in the Northeast scheduled only ten days after the agreement was released, we question the ability for the public to be properly informed or effectively participate in a consultation process. Also, the four month timeline also does not allow for the Parties to implement any of the feedback from the public or bring back a second draft for review.
To read the full response letter that was submitted please open the attached file.
Blair Lekstrom's report "the Path Forward to Recover the Caribou Plan in Northern BC" was released see more
Blair Lekstrom's report "the Path Forward to Recover the Caribou Plan in Northern BC" was released today. The BCSF submitted our comments to Mr. Lekstrom to help inform his report and we also submitted our recommendations to all proposed signatories on the Agreement at the end of May. You can read our full list of recommendations here.
The recommendations Mr. Lekstrom has made are:
- Government must not move the Partnership Agreement forward until full and proper engage- ment has occurred with Local Governments in the Peace Region, the District of Mackenzie, Industry, and Back Country user groups. Engagement must be done in a manner that is inclusive, transparent and be given the time to achieve public support.
- Ensure proper consultation with and possible inclusion of both McLeod Lake Indian Band and Lheidli-T’enneh First Nation in the rebalanced Partnership Agreement.
- A comprehensive Socio-Economic Impact Analysis must be completed in cooperation with the impacted areas of the Partnership Agreement prior to the agreement being finalized.
- Recognizing that it will take time to rebalance the Partnership Agreement and ensure the document can be more fully accepted and supported by the region, impose a temporary moratorium on Zones A2 and B3 until a comprehensive engagement process is complete and all possible options are considered.
- The province needs to work with the Forest Industry to identify ways to mitigate any negative impact on volume from the deferral zones. Through discussion this may then ensure AAC is made available from adjacent units.
- Moving forward remove zones B2 (Klinze-sa park expansion) and B5 (proposed West Moberly First Nations Woodland license) from the Partnership Agreement as both of these issues were agreed to prior to the development of the PA. If the province moves forward with a Woodlands license for West Moberly First Nations the requirement to harvest that timber must be actioned or the license should not proceed.
- Ensure that moving forward that the rebalanced Partnership agreement include but not be limited to the following;
- A clause that states it is not the intention of the agreement to impact negatively the industry which operates in the region and such a clause should reflect the view that supports the continued viability of industry (this clause can be discussed and developed by the parties engaged at the consultation table);
- Ensure enhanced, fair and equitable representa- tion on both the Caribou Recovery Committee (section 8) and the Technical Working Group;
- Develop the Central Group Caribou Motor- Vehicle Closure Plan in cooperation with user groups prior to the finalization of the Partnership Agreement and include it in the document (section 38);
- Define the Indigenous Guardian Program and include it in the final Agreement (section 40 and 41);
- Revisit the Dispute Resolution Process with a view to make it much clearer (sections 61 and 62);
- Ensure the Mitigation and Offset program is developed and defined and included in the Agreement (section 35);
- Ensure the development of the Managing Predation (section 39) is inclusive of those referred to in recommendations 1 and 2; and
- Ensure each clause contained in the agreement is written in a clear and concise manner that can be easily understood.
- Government continue to provide funding for the caribou maternal penning program which is seeing positive results in the growth of the number of caribou.
- Government continue with funding provided for the caribou feeding program which is seeing positive results in the growth of the number of caribou.
- Continue with the Wolf cull program in the Peace Region which is leading to a positive result in the number of caribou.
- Pursue the possibility of implementing a captive breeding program for caribou.
- Moving forward work with the Peace River Regional District and the District of Mackenzie to determine a possible overarching group that could be used as the lead table in discussions as they relate to these issues, as well as any future issues that may impact the region. This group should include all of those referenced in recommendation 1 as well as First Nations if they would agree to participate. This may be an option that government wishes to pursue in other regions as well, which could help alleviate ending up in a similar position to what we find ourselves in with regard to the Caribou agreements.
- The Federal Government must accept responsibility for the costs associated with any mitigation measures which may be needed to offset any negative impacts the final agreements may have on communities, industry, back country user groups and individual workers who may be negatively impacted. This recommendation reflects the fact that it is the Federal Governments Species at Risk Act which has led to the development of both the Section 11 Bilateral Agreement and the Draft Partnership Agreement.
- Although not within the jurisdiction of the prov- incial government, I would recommend that the Federal government incorporate the need for a full and comprehensive Socio-Economic Impact Analysis be part of all at risk species deliberations under the act and such a section be included in an amended Federal Species at Risk legislation.
A full copy of Mr. Lekstrom’s report is attached.
From a press release made today made by Premier Horgan it is apparent that he plans to at least implement some of the recommendations:
“Government is implementing an interim moratorium on new resource development in parts of northeastern British Columbia, while providing more time to protect jobs and support workers as it engages with affected communities and industries on long-term caribou protection strategies.”