Editorial: Setting a positive precedent

Editor Nicole Trigg assesses recent efforts of backcountry user to work together

The early feedback from user groups on opposite sides of the fence (non-motorized vs. motorized) about the new backcountry regulations in the Forster Creek drainage area appears to be hesistantly positive.

Conflict between user groups combined with a perceived need for environmental protection served as the basis for the recent revisions that now permit motorized use on Catamount Glacier for half the winter, but prohibit any type of motorized activity the rest of the year. The revisions take a different approach from the straight-out ban on all motorized  vehicles that was introduced in 1996 and was never effective.

Considering how conflict-filled last year’s meetings were over the development of a recreation management plan for the upper Columbia Valley, this new situation should be welcome news, as it indicates that compromise between backcountry user groups in the Columbia Valley is actually possible.

Another situation indicating a similar compromise and understanding recently took place at Lake Enid, where restoration work on damage caused by motorized use was assisted by members of a Calgary-based ATV club.

These examples of different user groups working together to preserve the natural environment that everybody loves to play in bode well for the future, and can serve to either revive the flagging CVRAC process or create a foundation for a government-led one.

But regardless of the amount of regulation in place, compliance on the part of the public is even more difficult to come by. Other regions such as Fernie that experienced little to no conflict when establishing rules around backcountry use are discovering that implementation is the major challenge. Enforcement can only do so much when resources are limited.¬† Education is the key, which can find a system of support in a community’s familiarity with what can happen when in its own backcountry areas, so that this knowledge can be easily communicated to visitors.