In order to manage for the full spectrum of recreation resources, the Forest Service initiated the development of a recreation inventory system in the early 1980s. The Forest Service recreation inventory classified recreation features into three categories – biological, physical/biophysical, and historical/cultural, along with a public consultation process to determine how people used and valued those features.
Another important component of the recreation inventory – the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) – classified the type of recreation experience (e.g., remoteness) or activities (e.g., mountaineering) associated with provincial forest lands. Seven ROS classes were used to describe the recreation opportunities associated with specific recreation resources – primitive; semi-primitive, non-motorized; semi-primitive, motorized; roaded, natural; roaded, modified; rural; and urban (rarely used). Recreation feature and ROS inventories are available as a layer in the forest inventory GIS database, and continue to be a work-in-progress through constant updates and revisions.
The 1984 Forest and Range Resource Analysis Report estimated that approximately 20% of British Columbia’s commercial timber lay within visually sensitive areas. Around the same time, B.C.’s tourism industry really began to take off. As timber harvesting operations began to encroach on these contentious visually sensitive areas, landscape management became an important component of the recreation program. Landscape management initiatives included: studies to assess social preferences and acceptability of landscape alteration; the incorporation of visual quality objectives into harvesting guidelines; and the development of computer applications for visual landscape management. In the mid 1990s, forest landscape management was transferred from the recreation program to the Harvesting and Silviculture Practices Section of the Forest Practices Branch.
In 1987, the Forest Act was amended to give the Forest Service a mandate to manage wilderness in provincial forests. A discussion paper titled, Managing Wilderness in Provincial Forests: A Proposed Policy Framework was distributed for public review and comment in 1988 and used to guide the development of Forest Service wilderness policy and planning. However, some aspects of wilderness values continued to be recognized and managed under various other government agencies (e.g., Ministry of Lands and Parks, Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada). By the early 1990s, wilderness management became a government priority, and it was transferred from the recreation program into the high-profile Protected Areas Strategy.
The scope and responsibilities of the Forest Service recreation program continued to expand and grow through much of the 1980s and 1990s with recreation planning and analysis (e.g., demand, value, carrying capacity), recreation corridor management, recreation map brochures, interpretive forest sites, liaison between public and commercial recreation interests, recreation use surveys, etc. Program priorities were primarily driven by evolving social values and expectations, and associated shifting demands related to forest recreation.