The District of Sicamous is joining other communities in the area to express their concern with the effects of closing large swathes of land to backcountry use in order to protect threatened species and the lack of public consultation on the closures.
The district council chose to send both a letter to Premier John Horgan expressing their concerns and submit a resolution requesting more public consultation to the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA).
“The preservation of healthy wildlife populations is a goal worthy of pursuit, yet a fine a balance must be achieved with concern for the livelihoods of many citizens. Please give British Columbians the consultation that they deserve about this very important issue,” Sicamous’ letter to Horgan reads.
“Backcountry access fuels our economy and provides immeasurable cultural and social benefits. Many opportunities for community building and quality family time are found in the great outdoors, providing mental and physical health benefits to those who answer the call of the mountains.”
The resolution, which will be debated at the SILGA’s conference in April states that B.C. depends on backcountry access to support industry, tourism and local economies. It goes on to say that flora, fauna and habitat are declining globally and acknowledges that federal and provincial government plans hope to help them recover but states that meaningful consultation with First Nations, backcountry users, businesses and local municipalities is necessary for the efforts to succeed.
Ultimately, the resolution requests that a moratorium be placed on all backcountry closures.
The key threatened species which has prompted closures of land in mountainous areas is the Mountain Caribou which ranges through much of the Columbia and Monashee mountains. In 2018, Catherine McKenna the Minister of Environment and Climate Change declared the Southern Mountain Caribou population is facing an imminent threat to its recovery. Further closures of backcountry areas to both commercial and recreational uses is one of the measures being proposed to try to recover the Caribou population.
“Where our concerns are is not so much about the closures but about the process in which the closures are taking place,” said Mayor Terry Rysz.
Rysz said they are concerned with the well-being of the wildlife, and involving user-groups can help find solutions that will help resolve issues in the backcountry.
“There’s around 2.2 million hectares that have been affected in the Revelstoke area,” Rysz said
“The precedent has been set we’re just concerned about what will be next.”