The District of Sicamous is helping snowmobile clubs who manage areas of backcountry keep loggers off their trails in the winter months.
At their Feb. 24 council meeting, the district chose to endorse a resolution from the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club asking that priority be given to recreational use on certain roads and trails during peak snowmobiling season.
The resolution will be submitted to the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) for endorsement. If successful, it will then go to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) for support.
The resolution states that some communities, user groups and snowmobilers are finding the management plans they have negotiated with Recreation Sites and Trails BC are being undermined by industrial use of the areas they manage in their peak season. It goes on to ask that UBCM work with the province to request that 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.
Sicamous councillor and former Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club general manager Gord Bushell said at the very least he hopes the resolution will foster better communication between the industrial and recreational users of the areas.
“Sometimes they just show up and there’s a machine there and you hear nothing about it,” Bushell said. “They plow the road out and we’re stuck until the next season.”
Bushell said the Eagle Valley club is somewhat resilient to limited access due to logging because they manage four trail systems. This year, logging affected the Blue Lake and Queest Mountain areas near Sicamous.
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.
Noting that only a small percentage of logging roads are managed by snowmobile clubs, Bushell said he thinks a compromise can be reached that keeps loggers working and allows snowmobilers free access to the groomed roads and trails.