KEREMEOS, B.C. – The B.C. Snowmobile Federation has launched a petition to withdraw the Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan for the South Peace Region.
According to the Change.org petition description, the plan is “a clear attack on the sport of snowmobiling in the South Peace”. It argues that the province proposes a plan based on elevation rather than a consultation with various user groups.
In February 2020, the B.C. government, federal government, West Moberly First Nations, and Saulteau First Nations signed the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group to the Southern Mountain Caribou. The goal of the agreement is “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.”
The B.C. government met with the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee in early 2021 to get firsthand input to make a more informed decision.
The Snowmobile Advisory Committee met 13 times and dedicated over 450 hours of volunteer time to release a report of recommendations for the B.C. government in February.
The SPSAC came up with three main recommendations. The first recommendation is adaptive management, meaning the SPSAC recommends that active monitoring of management actions be done and adjusted as new information, data, and knowledge emerge. The SPSAC recommends the management plan be fully reviewed every five years.
Recommendation two involves the application of both indirect and direct management actions. The SPSAC believes exclusively using direct or indirect management would not be beneficial. Instead, direct management where and when data shows caribou presence is high, combined with “a robust mix of indirect management actions.”
On May 19th, the British Columbia government announced a plan to mitigate the impact of winter motorized recreation on caribou recovery.
In response to the province’s draft plan, the SPSAC has requested the withdrawal of the current proposed Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan in the South Peace immediately.
Additionally, the SPSAC asks the province to return to meetings “with the intent to bring forward a recovery plan that supports caribou recovery, but is also supported by the communities and snowmobile clubs in the region.”
Lastly, it asks that future consultations with the public give ample time for participation and that there is an opportunity for the public to make changes to the proposed plan, rather than a “what we heard report.”
The SPSAC adds that in-person meetings would capture comments from people not comfortable with a digital-only process and allow people to hear each other.
The British Columbia Snowmobile Federation’s petition has generated over 6,200 signatures since it was started one week ago. The goal is to obtain 7,500 signatures.