The province is proposing some mandatory recreational access restrictions in the Telkwa Mountains aimed at helping the caribou recovery effort.
Voluntary access restrictions have been in place since the early 2000s. The mandatory restrictions the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are looking at will be for both hikers and motorized vehicles in different areas of the range.
“They spoke about the Recreation Access Management Plan that they’ve been working on. Again, that herd is in dire straits,” says Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen about the ministries delegation to council on Monday.
He says council has been critical of the province’s timeline on communicating with the village and the public. As a result, the ministry extended the timeline for council to make a formal comment until Oct. 14th instead of later this month.
The ministry says the herd is down to about 18 Caribou that is at the continual risk of extirpation.
In their presentation to Smithers Council on Tuesday night, ministry representatives said the Telkwa caribou avoid heavily disturbed valley bottoms and primarily use high-elevation habitat higher than 1600 metres.
They also pointed to recreation activities that overlap the alpine habitat that can lead to the displacement of caribou or increase predator access.
Hearing recommendations from the Telkwa Mountain Recreation Access Management (TRAM) group over 8 months, the ministry has identified 6 recreation zones in the Telkwa Mountains: Grizzly Plateau, the Meat Cache, Hunter Basin, Webster Lake, the North and East Telkwas, Mooseskin Johnny East and West.
The proposed areas of restriction as presented to Smithers Council for non-motorised use are in the area north of the Starr Basin. For motorized restrictions, a map presented to council shows proposed restrictions in the Hunters Basin along with restrictions north of the Starr Basin.
The ministry says their direction is based on existing scientific literature and research on the Telkwa caribou along with consultation with TRAM and other groups.
They say more public engagement will take place ahead of a regulation change set for sometime in June 2018.
Two public forums will be held on Sept. 20th and 21st at the Round Lake Hall at 6:30 p.m.
More to come.