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Skeena Stikine Forest District
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The matter of restricting public access to Crown land, or restricting access to certain user groups, is taken very seriously by provincial agencies. The Bulkley Forest District has taken the position that recreational access restrictions should not be the subject of specific operational forest management plans, and, in order to be consistent with the Consensus Management Plan, has undertaken a public process to develop this initial Recreation Access Management Plan.

It is proposed that this draft RAMP, which.} incorporates the results from the fall workshop and the final meeting of the winter users group, be circulated for broad public, key stakeholder, and First Nations review within the Bulkley Forest District.

3.1 Planning Framework

Figure 1 shows the planning framework for the Bulkley Forest District and the relationship this RAMP has to other plans. As shown, the Bulkley LRMP recommended that this RAMP be produced with the involvement of user groups. Following a public review, the information contained in the RAMP will then be incorporated into policy sections of the Landscape Unit Plans that are expected to be completed by the end of 1997.

The preliminary Landscape Unit Plans will clarify and detail on-the-ground objectives for the following:

  • Special Management Zones identified by the LRMP
  • Biodiversity objectives
  • RAMP objectives

Many areas discussed throughout the RAMP workshops fall within Special Management Zones identified in the LRMP. The majority of these are areas where recreational values are secondary to the resource values identified by the LRMP (i.e. caribou in the Telkwa and Howson ranges), but where management of recreation may be required to meet the need of the critical resource. The RAMP has recognized this relationship and designated these areas as Future Process (FP). In order to complete the Landscape Unit Plans, agencies with the mandate to manage for the identified values Within these areas must develop associated management directions (See Section 3.2.4. Future Processes.)

Portions of the Landscape Unit Plan that direct operational plans will be declared as a higher level plan under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act by the Bulkley District Manager. This will include any provisions for phased-in operational road access planning as operational plans include: Forest Development Plans; Access Management Plans; Logging Plans; Range Use plans; Silviculture Plans; Stand Management Prescriptions and 5- Year Silviculture Plans.

Much of the direction contained within this RAMP does not direct operational plans, but provides direction, in the form of district policy, to the management of the recreation program, such as:

  • which trails should be established and for what type of use (Section 6 of the Forest Practices Code of B.C.);
  • where Section 105 orders to regulate public recreation are appropriate (Section 105 of the Forest Practices Code of B.C.); and,
  • where specific management agreements may be entered into, including infrastructure development and maintenance.

3.2 Establishment of Recreation Sites and Trails

Section 6 of the Forest Practices Code (FOCI) enables the Ministry of Forests to formally establish Crown land as a recreation site, recreation trail, or interpretive forest site. Establishing recreation sites and trails secures the land for public recreation and allows the district manager to regulate uses that are incompatible with public recreation and institute measures to protect the recreation resource. In order to establish sites and trails under the FPC, proposals must be properly statuses, Undergo clearance procedures, and be formerly approved by the province's Chief Forester.

3.2.1 Setting Objectives for Sites and Trails

Once established by the Chief Forester, recreation sites, trails, and interpretive forest sites must have specific recreation objectives set and approved within six months. The reason for establishing objectives for sites and trails is to inform the public, and other resource users, that recreation is the primary emphasis for the area. The intent is also to clearly define the means of regulating recreation and non-recreation uses in order to protect the resource and manage use. For example, recreation sites currently established in the Bulkley Forest District include: Chapman Lake, Dennis Lake, Kitseguecla Lake, Talzen Lake, Torkelson Lake and Twin Falls.

An approved objective for an established recreation site or trail becomes a higher level plan as outlined in the FPC. All subsequent operational plans must be consistent with the recreation objectives that have been set. These objectives are a unique type of higher level plan dealing with very specific forest resources (i.e. recreation) and its use.

3.2.2 Section 105 Recreation Orders

Section 105 of the FPC enables the forest district manager to establish a recreation order to regulate public recreation activities anywhere on Crown land in order to protect recreation resources and manage recreation use. It is a legislative tool which will help the Ministry of Forests pm into practice land use strategies or objectives that have been.

established in higher level plans. This authority does not extend to recreation uses that are clearly allowed under other provincial acts, such as a commercial recreation operator with a lease under the Land Act.

High risk, environmentally sensitive areas, where protection of the recreation resource is required, were identified within the district. These are areas where potential damage in the summer caused by wheeled vehicles may occur, and include:

  • the Seaton/Blunt area;
  • Hudson Bay Mountain Prairie;
  • Harold Price Meadows; and
  • Hunter's Basin.

Signs will be posted notifying visitors where areas are designated for non-motorized use. Monitoring of these areas will indicate whether restrictions through the enactment of Section 105 and the associated penalties are required.

Any other decision on managing recreation use will be made based on community consensus direction.

3.2.3 Management Agreements

Management agreements are written agreements between volunteer non-profit user groups or clubs and the forests ministry to cooperatively manage a project such as a recreation site, trail, or cabin. The written agreement must include the conditions under which the project will be managed An example currently being utilized for recreation trail maintenance is the Adopt-a-Trail Program of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC (FMCBC). A local example is the Silvern Lakes Trail, which has been adopted by the Bulkley Valley Backpackers.

All high priority recreation trails within the district are proposed to be managed cooperatively with local user groups. Trails will be established where management agreements have been written between the forests ministry and user groups. Generally, user groups will initiate these agreements, which will be supported by the ministry providing they are consistent with this RAMP:

3.2.4 First Nations

Discussions were held with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation as part of the RAMP process. While there was general support of access designations within the RAMP, the Wet'suwet'en are not prepared to enter into formal consultation on the RAMP at this time.

The Wet'suwet'en are working in conjunction with the Inter-Agency Management Committee to determine their level of participation in higher level planning processes. Final consultation with First Nations on recreation access will be conducted through other planning processes and in accordance with protocol agreements.

The RAMP is not intended to affect the existence or scope of, or justify any infringement of, any aboriginal right of the Wet'suwet'en. Nor is it to prevent the Wet'suwet'en from exercising their aboriginal rights.

3.3 Public Education and Signs

Education is considered a fundamental requirement in making the general public aware of decisions reached in this planning process. It is also required to inform the public about the potential social and environmental impacts caused by indiscriminate recreation use and incompatible recreation activities. Through various forms of media including public notices, newspaper articles, recreation map brochures, pamphlets, and on-site signs, it is proposed that appropriate messages will be posted and circulated throughout the community.

The Forest Service and User Groups together will:

  • circulate the results of this RAMP for broad public approval throughout the community via advertisements in the local paper, open houses, meetings with First Nations.

The Forest Service will:

  • circulate to other agencies; and,
  • erect signs on all established sites and trails and in areas where there are vehicular restrictions resulting from the approved RAMP.

User Groups will:

  • provide ongoing education to their club members,
  • ensure club members are familiar with the results of ~s RAMP; and,
  • attempt to communicate with non-affiliated. users and educate the general public.

3.4 Monitoring and Enforcement

One objective of monitoring is to allow government agencies and the public to assess whether recreation management practices and activities are consistent with the RAMP and any designations that are approved by government. Another objective of monitoring is to see if the plan is providing the direction required as social values change.

To satisfy the first intent, it is proposed that periodic spot checks on designated and posted non-motorized areas will be carried out annually. In addition, it is anticipated that the public and user groups will observe, record, and report alleged violations and infractions to the local district office. Contraventions of applicable sections of the FPC, including posted Section 105 Recreation Orders, will be enforced by the forests ministry.

The second objective can only be assessed overtime through continued communication, and assessment of changing needs. The following processes have been suggested to address this need.

3.4.1 Review of the Plan

This is the first RAMP prepared for the Bulkley district and it is proposed that the plan be the subject of a five year review in the Year 2002. The review will involve the Ministry of Forests, local user groups, First Nations, and other government agencies and will focus on the designations approved in the RAMP and how well the objectives and strategies for recreation are being met.

3.4.2 Proposed Bulkley Valley Outdoor Recreation Council

The efforts applied by individuals and recreation user group representatives toward the development of a recreation access management plan for the Bulkley portion of the Bulkley/Cassiar Forest District to be commended. Through this process it has become apparent that issues surrounding the use of Crown land for recreation will continue to arise, especially as the population in the Bulkley Valley increases and pressures on the limited land base persist.

The Principles for Recreational Access Management Sections and 2.1.1. 4, established by workshop participants to guide development of the RAMP, note the continuing need for public education about responsible recreation practices. As well, monitoring for responsible recreation use of Crown land is stated as the responsibility of both government agencies and the public.

Communication, education and interactions between the representatives of outdoor recreation user groups could be provided through the establishment of a permanent recreation council for the district. This public body would provide a focal point for all recreation groups within the district and could work as a cooperative to increase increase awareness and minimize conflict. The council could also function as a partnership when applying for funding, and work with the Bulkley Forest District Office toward assessing and ranking recreation projects for provincial funding.

The Bulkley/Cassiar District Office is available to participate on this council, as required, and would consider any recommendations proposed by the council, providing there had been a public review.