The Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club will not be pursing a resolution asking that recreation use be given priority over logging in the backcountry areas it manages.
At its Feb. 24 meeting, District of Sicamous council voted to endorse a resolution from the club asking that priority be given to recreational use on certain roads and trails during peak snowmobiling season. The resolution was submitted to the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) for endorsement. If successful there, it would have gone to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) for support.
On Monday, March 8, Gord Bushell, Sicamous councillor and former Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club general manager, said the resolution did not receive the support of the BC Snowmobile Federation and was subsequently being pulled from SILGA. He said the resolution would be formally rescinded at Wednesday’s council meeting (March 10), and that a new one would be brought forward at a later date.
The resolution being rescinded stated that some communities, user groups and snowmobilers were finding the management plans they have negotiated with Recreation Sites and Trails BC were being undermined by industrial use of the areas during their peak season. It asked that UBCM work with the province to request snowmobile clubs be given sole user status of the trails and forest service roads covered by their management plans between Dec. 1 and March 31 of each year.
Noting that only a small percentage of logging roads are managed by snowmobile clubs, Bushell had thought a compromise could be reached that keeps loggers working and allows snowmobilers free access to the groomed roads and trails.
Stu Sorkilmo, the new GM of the snowmobile club, said the road up Queest was plowed for the first six kilometres and, with sledders being unable to ride on plowed roads, there were fewer using it. Sorkilmo said many snowmobilers either lacked tire chains or chose not to tow trailers up to the parking area where the plowed road ends.
The Blue Lake area also had to be accessed using the Owlhead trails due to logging near its usual access point near Malakwa. Sorkilmo said the reduction in easily accessible trails, along with people stranded in B.C. due to COVID-19, led to congestion on the Owlhead trails with twice the users compared to previous years on some days.
Both Bushell and Sorkilmo heard from other clubs around the province who were encountering similar issues with loggers plowing roads.