Frequently Asked Questions
The Frequently Asked Question page will be updated throughout the engagement process to be responsive to common questions that arise. Download the FAQ PDF. To view archived versions of this FAQ, please visit the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development FTP Site.
Though not the primary or sole threat to caribou recovery, the impacts on caribou from winter motorized recreation act cumulatively with other primary threats such as habitat loss and increases in predator populations. Winter motorized recreation can further stress the well-being of caribou, which is particularly concerning when herds are small, remnant and in a state of long-term decline like the Central Group. The best available science suggests that winter motorized recreation in alpine and subalpine caribou habitat can:
- Displace caribou – Winter motorized recreation can push caribou out of optimal or more optimal habitat and into less optimal habitat. This can lead to increased predation and / or greater energy expenditures during energy deficient periods which can lead to lower survival and reproductive rates.
- Disturb caribou – The noise from winter motorized recreation and human presence can disturb caribou which results in greater energy expenditure and / or increased stress hormones even if they do not leave the habitat they are in. This can lead to lower survival and reproductive rates.
- Increased predation – Winter motorized recreation creates hard packed linear disturbances that allow predators to move through the landscape more efficiently in the winter which can provide access to caribou range and increase predation.
- More information on caribou and snowmobiles can be found here: Recreation and Caribou Literature
The Province of B.C. is proposing a Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan to compliment the significant investment in other recovery measures for these herds.
In addition, in February 2020, the Government’s of British Columbia, Canada, West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations (the Parties) signed the Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement for the Conservation of the Central Group to the Southern Mountain Caribou (the Agreement). The Agreement specifies the actions that the Parties have agreed to take to achieve the shared recovery objective of: “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”, while considering the social and economic well-being of communities and stakeholders in the region. The government of British Columbia is the accountable Party for the development, engagement, consultation, and implementation of a management plan for motorized recreation to achieve the Shared Recovery Objective for the Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou.
The draft Plan is focused on public lands within the herd boundaries of the Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou in B.C. This includes the Klinse-za, Kennedy Siding, Burnt Pine, Quintette, and Narraway herds as shown in the map below. The planning area includes lands near Mackenzie, Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge.
The draft Plan identifies the management measures and strategies that are proposed to be implemented to mitigate the impacts of winter motorized recreation on caribou and caribou recovery. The Plan identifies areas proposed for full-season closures, partial-season closures and active management areas that will help to avoid or minimize impacts to caribou from winter motorized recreation. The Plan also identifies areas that are proposed to remain open to winter motorized recreation, education strategies, compliance and enforcement and areas where recreation enhancement will be focused. Further engagement on these enhancement areas will inform the feasibility and implementation that will be led by the province of BC in partnership with local organizations.
To initiate the planning process, the Government of British Columbia established the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee, comprised of local winter motorized recreation stakeholders and local governments, was tasked with providing advice to the Government of British Columbia on how winter motorized recreation could be managed in the region to support caribou recovery. Following the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee report, British Columbia worked collaboratively with representatives from the Governments of Canada, West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations to review the best available science regarding caribou and caribou habitat, current and future habitat needs, winter motorized recreation values and the advice from the Advisory Committee. The Parties worked collaboratively to develop the draft plan.
Southern Mountain Caribou, including the herds within the Central Group, have experienced significant population declines over the past three generations. The most recent five years of monitoring suggests that over the short term, population sizes are increasing within the Kennedy Siding, Klinse-Za, and Quintette herds, and stable at very low numbers in the Narraway herd. The Burnt Pine herd is believed to have been extirpated since 2014, although Kennedy Siding caribou sometimes use that range. Though the short-term current population trend in the Central Group is increasing or stable, it is important to recognize that these population increases are a result of intensive management actions including maternity penning, supplemental feeding, and predator control. The long-term population trend for all herds in the Central Group indicates that these herds are decreasing. Given the small population sizes following significant declines, all herds in the Central Group are highly susceptible to mortality events (e.g., predation, disturbance, avalanches). For more information on the status of the Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou, please review the following webpage: Central Group of Southern Mountain Caribou in B.C.
No. The Plan is focused on winter motorized recreation only. The Plan does not propose any non-motorized winter recreation measures.
No. The management plan is focused on winter motorized recreation only. The Plan does not identify new management measures that will impact summer motorized or non-motorized recreation. However, it should be noted that existing summer motor vehicle closures in the region remain in place.
Consistent with similar measures in B.C., the proposed management actions would impact recreation, commercial hunting and commercial backcountry recreation.
Based upon the information the Government of British Columbia received from the South Peace Snowmobile Advisory Committee, there are a total of 21 known snowmobiling areas throughout the planning area.
Of the known riding area, the Plan proposes:
- All 21 riding areas will have indirect management actions including education, monitoring and adaptive management.
- 70% of the known snowmobiling area will continue to provide snowmobile opporunity1.
- 30% of the known snowmobiling area is proposed to be closed to winter motorized recreation.
For details on the specific application of management actions, please refer to the draft Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan in the South Peace 66% of known snowmobiling area will remain open within indirect management actions.
1: The proposed action in the Plan results in 66% of known snowmobile area (Hectares) is remain open, 2.5% of the area open prior to January 15th each season, and 1.7% of the area open under an Active Management Area.
Sharing your input is easy. Please visit https://engage.gov.bc.ca/caribou for more information about the project, to review the draft plan and to share your input through our online feedback form. You can also submit a written response via email or letter to email@example.com or by sending a letter to the following address before the engagement period closes:
Caribou Recovery Program
PO Box 9546 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 95C
Once the engagement period closes, all input received will be assembled, analyzed and summarized into a What We Heard Report by an external contractor. The What We Heard Report will be used by the Government of B.C. and the Parties. The What We Heard Report will also accompany the decision package that will be submitted to the respective statutory decision makers.
- Work is ongoing by a Technical Working Group, a government-to-government committee of technical professionals, to identify and develop recommendations for caribou recovery related land use objectives for the resource sector. The Agreement commits to further discussions with stakeholders and between the parties before moving these recommendations to provincial government decision makers. Completion of this work has been delayed somewhat due to the complicated nature of the work and COVID complications.
- The Partnership Agreement also created a Caribou Recovery Committee (CRC), responsible for reviewing applications and arriving at a consensus recommendation on all applications within the certain zones in the Agreement (A1, B1, B4 and B5). The CRC, with representation from each party to the Agreement, has met monthly since May 2020 and provides their recommendations to provincial decision-makers on whether the application contributes to the achievement of the Shared Recovery Objective and meets the criteria as laid out in Schedule 1 of the Agreement.
- In 2019 the province put in place interim protection for over 700,000 hectares of caribou habitat.
- The Province continues to support other measures committed to in the Agreement such as the caribou maternal pen and predator management.