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Snowmobile restrictions to aid caribou recovery in South Peace

 

group of extreme lovers jumping on snowmobiles on sunny day
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DAWSON CREEK – Victoria has placed restrictions on the use of snowmobiles in selected areas of the South Peace region that contain crucial caribou habitat.

About 454,000 hectares of Crown land are closed to snowmobiles in 13 of 21 identified riding areas.

However, riders can continue to enjoy their sport elsewhere in the region where their activities will have fewer impacts on caribou habitat and caribou recovery efforts. Riding opportunities remain in 71 per cent of the areas identified as being important to snowmobilers.

The goal is to mitigate the impacts of winter motorized recreation on caribou recovery, while retaining or enhancing recreation opportunities in areas outside key caribou habitat.

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.

The B.C. Caribou Recovery Program will provide $150,000 to help local snowmobile clubs plan winter motorized recreation enhancement projects outside of the areas being managed to protect caribou habitat. Projects could include new access, maintenance of existing trails and other projects identified by the clubs.

Quick Facts:

* B.C. Caribou Recovery Program staff worked collaboratively with the Saulteau First Nations, West Moberly First Nations and the federal government on the Winter Motorized Recreation Management Plan to help caribou recover in the region.

* A 45-day consultation period with local First Nations was part of the process.

* Discussions were also held with local governments (including Mackenzie, Tumbler Ridge, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John) and the B.C. Snowmobile Federation.

* A public engagement process ran from May 19 through July 14, 2021. People responded by completing an online survey, submitting letters or commenting on a map indicating the closures being contemplated.

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