Forest Practices Board Releases Findings on Bulkley Valley RAMP Investigation
VICTORIA – In a report released today, the Forest Practices Board has found that it was appropriate for the Bulkley Valley Forest District not to restrict snowmobile users’ access to Harold Price Meadows and Blunt Creek basin. However, the Board also found that the Recreational Access Management Plan (RAMP) process was flawed because there were no clear written terms of reference.
“The district manager’s decision not to restrict access was appropriate because the RAMP participants had insisted that decisions would only be made by consensus and did not agree on a dispute resolution process,” said Board member John Cuthbert. “Enforcement of any restrictions would also be impractical if the restrictions were not supported by all the users.”
The access to a number of areas in the Bulkley Valley by recreational users was negotiated as part of the RAMP. The participants in the RAMP process all wanted decisions about restrictions on users to be made by consensus. The district manager agreed, stating that restrictions would only be imposed if all parties agreed.
The recreational users reached agreement on most of the eighteen areas identified, but negotiations broke down without resolving the issues for the Harold Price and Blunt basin areas. As a result, the district manager did not restrict access to those areas.
The Board received two complaints from backcountry skiers who wanted restrictions on snowmobile use and were concerned that the RAMP process was not fair.
The investigation also revealed that, although the Forest Practices Code gives district managers the authority to restrict recreational users in some areas, there is no guidance provided by government on how or when district managers should use that authority. The Board has recommended that the Ministry of Forests provide guidance and assistance to district managers on administration of recreational users on forest lands under the Code.
Conflicts between snowmobilers and other Crown land users such as backcountry skiers and heli-skiing operations have occurred in other parts of the province as well.
Created in 1995, the Forest Practices Board is an independent agency that provides reports to three ministers and the public about compliance with the Code and the achievement of its intent. Investigating Code related complaints from the public is one of its key roles. Other important responsibilities include auditing forest practices, conducting special investigations of any Code related forestry issues; participating in administrative reviews and appeals; and providing reports to the public and government on Board activities, findings and recommendations.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964
December 10, 1998