The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF) is looking to local governments to support a better working relationship between recreation trail users and forestry.
At the June 23 District of Sicamous council meeting, members of the BCSF appeared as a delegation, asking for support to bring the federation’s resolutions to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).
In a letter to council, BCSF executive director Donegal Wilson said increasingly the federation is seeing its snowmobile trails being impacted by forestry during peak season, without consideration to the snowmobile industry.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development enacted the Forest Range and Practice Act (FRPA) in 2004. It outlines parameters for how public lands and resources are managed in B.C.
FRPA’s objective is to align government, private and public interests by defining values such as: biodiversity, recreation, and timber. These values are then assigned objectives, detailing how land users must work together to protect and retain these resources.
Of the 11 FRPA values, recreation remains the only one for which the ministry has never assigned objectives.
Due to this, BCSF argues without declared objectives, industrial licensees currently have no requirement to consider, consult, or coordinate their activities on registered public trails or around public recreational resources in the province.
Wilson said BCSF is not trying to stop logging or other industries; rather, BCSF wants to work more closely with them. She said there are many examples across the province of great working relationships, inclusive planning processes and timing considerations made by industry. She said the resolutions BCSF is proposing are intended to ensure those relationships are the required standard.
One of the resolutions is specific to snowmobiling. It’s goal is to retain alpine and coniferous forest features along recreation sites and trails; mandate safety considerations for recreational access in forest planning; and require activities which could disrupt access to trails or the recreation experience be communicated at least six months in advance.
Additionally, BCSF said for certain trails designated as “high value” due to their tourism and community benefits, it would like to see “Opportunities for snowmobiling, viewing and exploring must be provided on this designated snowmobile trail (site) during the snowmobile operating season of December 1 to March 31.”
Coun. Gord Bushell said it’s important to have good relationships with local logging companies. Bushell ran the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club for 10 years and said he was impressed with the resolutions BCSF brought forward and thanked the delegation.
Bushell also said FRPA is currently undergoing some modernization so now is a good time to submit these resolutions to UBCM.
Council sponsored BCSF’s resolutions and the motion to bring them to UBCM was carried unanimously.