While the school strike is on in British Columbia, I need to find more things to do for the kids. I thought hiking on Big White while the ski hill is shut down might be a nice change. I sent the Big White folks an email: ” I’m taking take five kids up hiking on the mountain on well marked trails only. Is there anything I should be aware of as far as parts of the mountain being closed etc?” I asked.
Here is the reply I received and thought someone else may find it helpful:
We have only one trail that is actually open to hiking. The trail is marked with orange Inukshuks from the Village to the top of the cliff and back down to the Village again. The rest of the mountain is essentially closed. Please be advised there is no patrols on the hill so be sure someone knows where you have gone and when to except you back.
The purpose of Recreation Sites and Trails BC is to:
• develop, maintain and market a network of 1,319 recreation sites and 818 recreation trails to provide safe, quality recreation opportunities for the public;
• manage, in collaboration with other Ministry of Natural Resource Operations (MNRO) business lines, public recreation use on Crown land outside recreation sites and trails; and
• develop, maintain and market, in collaboration with other provincial agencies and local government, British Columbia’s 800 plus kilometres of rail trails, branded “The Spirit of 2010 Trail”.
Description of Recreation Sites and Trails
Recreation Sites and Trails are located on Crown lands outside Parks and settled areas and are managed within an integrated management framework along with harvesting, range, commercial recreation and other activities and uses.
Recreation Sites are rustic:
• with only basic facilities such as toilets, fire rings and picnic tables
The Spirit of 2010 Trail is a network of five former rail corridors, approximately 800 kilometres in length that are owned by the Province and have been converted to recreation trails for primarily non-motorized use.
An estimated $43 M has been invested on acquiring the trail bed and upgrading infrastructure (e.g., bridges, trestles, signage, parking facilities).
It is estimated that the Spirit of 2010 Trail will generate in excess of $10 M annually in tourism revenues that will benefit many rural communities.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the Ministry of Transportation, Tourism BC and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts was signed in 2007 to facilitate the development of a management plan and governance model for this world-class trail.
An Order to establish the Spirit of 2010 Trail as a recreation trail under Section 56 of the Forest and Range Practices Act under the jurisdiction of the MNRO is ready for the Minister to approve and sign.
Linkages to Government Goals
A strong recreation sites and trails program:
• promotes healthy living and physical fitness;
• fosters sustainable environmental management; and
• contributes to job creation and a strong economy
The legislative authority for managing British Columbia’s recreation sites and
trails is set out in the Forest and Range Practices Act. (Transferred from Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts (MTCA) to the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations (MNRO) in October 2010)
Minister of Natural Resource Operations has the authority to:
• establish or cancel recreation sites and trails on Crown land;
• authorize trail and other recreation facilities proposed by the public;
• establish an order that restricts public recreation activities on Crown land in order to protect a recreation resource or resolve conflicting recreation uses;
• enter into an agreement with a person to manage a recreation site or trail; and
• establish regulations concerning the use of recreation sites and trails
The Forest Recreation Regulation enables the Minister to set user fees at recreation sites and trails to cover the cost of services provided and establishes rules concerning use.
The authority to establish recreation sites and trails will be delegated to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Provincial Operations. The remaining authorities will be delegated to the Director and Regional Managers, as was the case when the program was within MTCA
Recreation Sites and Trails is business line in Provincial Operations with line of sight to regions and districts.Recreation Sites and Trails consists of 30 regular and 8.5 auxiliary positions.More than 90% of recreation staff work at region and district offices in 22 locations across B C.
Recreation Sites and Trails were identified as one of the top 20 work units in Government in 2007/08 and 2008/09.
Recreation Sites and Trails
20010/11 Budget: $6.3 M
• $4.3 M Base
• $2 M Community Development Trust, Job Opportunities Program -Ending March 2011
Other resources leveraged to off-set operating costs
• $2.0 M user fees
• $0.54 M estimated value of volunteer hours
• Wildfire Protection Crews – estimate of hours not available
• Engineering – estimate of road maintenance costs to high value recreation sites and trails not available
Spirit of 2010 Trail
There are currently no allocated operational funds to maintain the Spirit of 2010 Trail.
Recreation Site and Trail Operations
A partnership model for managing recreation sites and trails was introduced in 2003.
• Partners are responsible for:
– maintaining recreation sites and trails
– supervising use at recreation sites and trails (in some cases)
– covering the cost of services provided
• Agreements may be for up to 10 years
• Government is responsible for
– infrastructure replacement and other large operating cost items such as toilet pumping, hazard tree abatement, and infrastructure replacement.
– providing third party liability insurance to agreement holders.
There are currently 272 partnership agreements for managing 373 recreation sites and 200 recreation trails. Partners include 14 First Nations bands, community groups, outdoor recreation organizations, forest companies, regional districts, municipal governments, etc. Partners contributed 46 person years worth of work in 2009/10 User fees collected at 105 recreation sites and 41 trails, in 2009/10, generated more than $2.0 M and enabled partners to off-set their costs of managing the site or trail.
Model for Managing Recreation Sites and Trails in 2011/12
Focus will be on maintaining the 70% of the recreation sites and 40% of the trails that meet the standards of “Market Ready”. Remaining recreation sites and trails will be managed as user maintained and will either be upgraded to the “Market Ready” standard or closed over time.
More than 40 percent of the recreation sites and trails have been impacted by mountain pine beetle. Dead and dying trees on recreation sites and trails presents a significant public safety hazards due to potential tree failure and windfall. In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program provided $1.435 M over the 2 year period to assist with the removal of hazard trees and fuel accumulation from impacted 200 recreation sites and trails. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, the Community Development Trust, Job Opportunities
Program assisted in mitigating impact of mountain pine beetle at recreation sites and trails. The beetle infestation continues to spread and field reconnaissance indicates that additional long term treatments are required to address public safety issues at recreation sites and trails.
Marketing Recreation Sites and Trails
Recreation Sites are an important part of the Province’s tourism infrastructure and play a key role in government’s goal of doubling tourism revenue by 2015. Recreation Sites and Trails are critical to growing the domestic tourism sector.
A Market Development Plan for Recreation Sites was developed in 2008. The name “Recreation Sites and Trails BC” was officially branded by the Province’s Public Affairs Bureau. Marketing products such as a new website, upgrades to the interactive web map, Facebook, display material, maps, and rack cards were produced in 2009 with funding from the BC 150 Legacy Fund.
The interactive map on the Ministry website assists the public in locating recreation sites and determining the facilities at each site (e.g., number of campsites, boat launches and other facilities). Information on trails is expected to be added before May 2011.