I attended the caribou session and I'm very concerned about the suggestion of closing the South Peace to all industrial and recreational use. There's a possibility that in the future there could be closures of all the Rocky Mountain areas in B.C. I am not confident that the proposed closures to recreational and business access will achieve the expected results.
I have lived and worked in the Prince George area all my life and I have been an avid snowmobiler for over 35 years. I'm a member of the Prince George Snowmobile Club which is affiliated with the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation and the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations.
I agree that something needs to be done to restore the herds of caribou. Very little was has been done in the last 20 years and I'm not certain that what has been done was properly measured. In 2009, the Ministry of Forests and Lands started closing access to snowmobiles in many areas. There were 61 closures as of 2016 but I have not been able to find measures and results. For example; what were the herd numbers before the closures? What are they now? I'm sure those numbers are somewhere. They should be published for our reference.
Snowmobile clubs throughout the province care about the habitats and want to help.
We are a small group and we have historically been targeted by politicians as a reason for the caribou decline.
No scientific data has been published or provided. In spite of all the closures to date, numbers are still declining. If a closure didn't work, why not open it before closing more?
It is unfortunate that government officials have mismanaged the caribou population until they have become "a species at risk" and now drastic changes have to be implemented to the detriment of industry and back-country recreational users.
We want to make sure the government is implementing - and is held accountable to - solutions that work.
More closures without justification is a heavy-handed technique that takes the easy way out in order to give the public "the perception" that action is being taken.