The BC Snowmobile Federation received information on August 2020 about a new proposed project in the Elk Valley area called the Elk Valley Cumulative Effects Management Framework. (EVCEMF) This project intends to restore industrial roads in the Elk Valley that will restrict public access to areas for the protection of habitat for Grizzly Bears, Big Horn Sheep, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout.
Road restoration is not the same as road deactivation and includes the pulling down of the banks to re-slope the road and new trees are then planted to completely restore the area. This type of restoration has the potential to completely remove snowmobile access and it was clear that access to several snowmobile areas in the Elk Valley could be lost due to this project. In fact, almost all of our snowmobile areas are listed as priority watersheds for their work going forward.
Therefore, the BCSF quickly created a project team with the Fernie Snowmobile Association and the Elkford Snowmobile Association to ensure that the snowmobile sector would have a voice on this project. We requested an immediate stop work and asked for the opportunity to participate in the road selection process for this year. This resulted in us being provided two weeks to review their proposed work and submit a written letter with our concerns. At the same time we were also successful in setting up a virtual meeting with the Provincial Project Lead to ensure that our concerns were heard. The BCSF and our member clubs attended the meeting and we were successful in having the Ptolemy trail and the Heartbreak trail removed from this year’s work plan.
As a result of this work, we also have been successful in obtaining a snowmobile sector seat on the EVCEMF Working Group going forward so that we can better support their work while also representing the interests of the snowmobiling public. We anticipate this work will be ongoing over the next five years and that the Fernie Snowmobile Association and the Elkford Snowmobile Association will continue to provide strong representation for snowmobilers on this project locally.
This is a prime example of why you should join a snowmobile club. It is not just about groomed trails. The BCSF and our member clubs are dedicated to safety, the growth of the sport, protection of the environment, and securing access to public lands for all. Trails that are groomed are legally established and rarely challenged. It is snowmobile access trails that are not legally established that often are threatened and where the BCSF spends the bulk of our time and resources.
The BCSF will continue to support the clubs in the Elk Valley on this project while also working with the Cumulative Effects Management Framework Provincially. We need to better understand the implications to snowmobile access across BC, projects they have planned and ensure we have a voice. We have expanded our Provincial Team on this file to include our partners at ATV BC and BC Off Road Motorcycles Association (BCORMA) to provide a unified voice for all motorized recreation. Please support your local club!