B.C. is considering reopening closed lands to snowmobilers. Photo credit Trish Drinkle

Province considers reopening closed lands to snowmobilers

Permits will be considered in areas with a strong snowmobile club to manage the permit.

In 2009 over 2 million hectares was closed to snowmobiling in BC for the purpose of caribou recovery. This year the government is considering reopening previously closed lands via an annual permit process.

With the last of the South Selkirk, and South Purcell Mountain caribou being safely translocated to a holding facility in Revelstoke, snowmobilers will be seeing some of the lands previously closed for caribou conservation reopened via a pending permit process.

Registered club members with the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation can now apply through FrontCounter BC to be considered for one of the permits. Conservation officers will be actively enforcing the permits to ensure that only riders with the permit will be allowed in the reopening areas.

“We had to develop a relationship of trust,” said Drinkle, member and former president of the Kokanee Country Snowmobile Club (KCSC). “When I started on the path of caribou conservation over a decade ago, our relationship with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development team was one that was less than trusting on both sides.

“Fast forward to today, the KCSC and volunteers from the Ymir Outback Society are working with caribou conservation to collect data which will help bring a deeper understanding to the wildlife and habitat around us. I am so incredibly proud of all of our riders who maintained compliance and respected these closures even though they may not have agreed with them. This type of dedication to the process facilitates better communication and a better working relationship with the ministry, science team, Conservation Officers Service and other stakeholders.

British Columbia Snowmobile Federation Executive Director shared this statement.

“The Province of BC has an ongoing commitment to adaptive management plans for caribou which includes the review of actions taken against stated goals. In the spirit of adaptive management, the government is going to consider reopening of previously closed lands to snowmobiling via an annual permit process.

“These permits will be considered in areas where there has been very high compliance from the ridership, a strong snowmobile club to manage the permit, and caribou are no longer present. Each permit may have different requirements based on the objectives and will be managed by individual snowmobile clubs with support from the BC Snowmobile Federation.

“We are asking that in areas where caribou herds are still present that snowmobilers continue to respect the closures. We also hope that this will help snowmobilers see that compliance does provide opportunities for future access to closed areas.”

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