Dec 21, 2021
DAWSON CREEK – A B.C. government bulletin today announced new restrictions on the use of snowmobiles in selected areas of the South Peace region that contain what it considers to be crucial caribou habitat.
About 454,000 hectares of Crown land are closed to snowmobiles in 13 of 21 identified riding areas.
The province said its goal is to mitigate impacts of winter motorized recreation on caribou recovery, while retaining recreation opportunities outside key caribou habitat. Snowmobilers can continue to use areas not included in the closures. The bulletin says riding opportunities remain in 71% of the areas identified by snowmobilers as important.
Public engagement on the closures ran from May 19 through July 14, 2021. Responses came in via an online survey, written letters or comments on a map of the proposed closures. Discussions were also held with local governments from Mackenzie, Tumbler Ridge, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, local First Nations, as well as the B.C. Snowmobile Federation.
The bulletin states:
“Although winter motorized recreation is not the primary threat to caribou recovery, operating vehicles such as snowmobiles in alpine and sub-alpine caribou habitat can disturb and displace the animals, put unnecessary stress on them and make them more vulnerable to predators such as wolves and cougars.”
“These closures will complement ongoing caribou recovery activities in the area, including: habitat protection; habitat restoration; predator reduction; maternal penning; and supplemental feeding.”
Through the B.C. Caribou Recovery Program, the province will provide $150,000 to help local snowmobile clubs plan winter motorized recreation enhancement projects outside of the protection . Projects could include new access, maintenance of existing trails and other projects identified by the clubs.
Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/caribou/learn-more/
What We Heard report: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/373/2021/12/Clause-37-WWH-External.pdf
Northern Rockies closures (large map): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/sports-recreation-arts-and-culture/outdoor-recreation/motor-vehicle-prohibitions/snowmobile-closures/snowmobile_closure_7_16_northern_rockies.pdf
All snowmobile closures: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/motor-vehicle-prohibitions#snowmobile