Forums on backcountry caribou regulations

Skiers and snowmobilers would be affected. The first delegation is at Telkwa council tonight.

There will be a series of public consultations on backcountry regulations meant to help caribou populations recover.

A series of public meetings will be held in this month to give the public information about possible upcoming regulations concerning backwoods recreational areas.

The meetings to be held by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations &Rural Development will be held prior to implementation of the regulations, which will be part of the Telkwa caribou recovery plan.

According to Mike Dunbar of the Bulkley Backcountry Ski Society, the regulations can be seen as positive steps for the region.

“They’ve come up with some draft regulations that they have proposed. They want to explain them to these groups,” he said.

“It’s better than having no activity in the area and that’s where it was going. What they’ve decided to do is to have a certain level of activity. They decided on how much activity they should have and then split it in half between the ski and snow machine groups. They’ll have specific open times throughout the winter and the ministry will provide permits,” he explained.

Dunbar said that those permits will depend upon finding any caribou in the area before they open. Some of the caribou have electronic collars and if they determine that they are in the area just before opening, the ministry may not issue any permits.

Dunbar felt that the B.C. ministry was intending to come up with a local solution as opposed to having something imposed from the federal level. Since the caribou are on the endangered list, they can come under federal jurisdiction.

Dunbar said that the Backcountry Ski Society was not planning to attend the presentations to the various town and village councils as these would likely be not much more than information sessions. He felt that there would in all likelihood be much more question and answer at the public forums as opposed to the council meetings.

The public consultation sessions will be as follows:

Delegation to Telkwa Village council – Monday, Sept. 11 – 7:00 p.m.

Delegation to Smithers Town council – Tuesday, Sept. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Delegation to Houston Town council – Tuesday, Sept. 19 – 7:00 p.m.

Public Forum – Round Lake Hall – Wednesday, Sept. 20 – 6:30-9:00 p.m.

Public Forum – Round Lake Hall – Thursday, Sept. 21 – 6:30-9:00 p.m.

The restrictions proposed for the Starr Creek area would likely affect the Bulkley Backcountry Ski Society members most. Members are encouraged to attend the public forums.