What is it you love about the Columbia Valley? For us, here at Wildsight, it’s the wild spaces that provide homes for wildlife and opportunities to connect with nature. As more and more people search out these places, how do we balance the needs of the natural world and the human desire for recreation? Now is the time to add your voice.
Various stakeholders have been developing a recreation strategy that considers the desires of different users, while protecting the values that make this region so exceptional. At this stage of the process, the Columbia Valley Recreation Planning Initiative is soliciting public input until February 16 on the Steamboat Mountain area (Radium to Brisco, on the west side of the Columbia Valley). The online survey focuses on recreation issues and potential management options.
When filling out the survey, please consider the impact of motorized and non-motorized recreational use (roads, trails, sites, random camping, parking and staging areas, noise, and human presence) against the wildlife values that are important to you. The Steamboat area is an important ungulate winter range and a key habitat and movement corridor for elk, grizzly bears, mountain goats, wolverines, marmots and many other species.
This area is important to many at-risk species including the American Badger, Whitebark Pine, Northern Leopard Frog, Flammulated Owl and Lewis’s Woodpecker. Recreational impacts could include habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. Recreational use is known to disrupt animal movements, change wildlife behaviour, and reduce their ability to acquire food, reproduce and raise their young. This can lead to loss of species and loss of species diversity.
Much of the Steamboat area is environmentally sensitive and contains high ecological values including ecosystems at risk, such as sensitive grasslands, wetlands and riparian areas. The grasslands are particularly vulnerable and are already showing the negative impacts of recreational use including compaction, exposure or erosion of soils which can then lead to the introduction and spread of invasive species. Also of significance, adjacent to the Steamboat area lies the Columbia Wetlands Corridor, a wetland of international importance and an important area for species at risk and biodiversity.
When considering the above issues and enforcement related to them, it’s important to remember that the application and effectiveness of recreation management is limited by vague definitions around environmental impacts and damage, lack of enforcement staffing and prosecutorial challenges.
We ask that you carefully consider these factors when completing your survey.
The Columbia Valley Recreation Planning Initiative is inviting the public and recreation users to complete an online survey to inform recreation planning for the Columbia Valley and Steamboat Mountain area. The survey is focused on recreation issues and potential management options, and is available here.
This public engagement is an opportunity to provide:
- Your feedback on the draft Recreation Inventory and Issues Report for the Steamboat Mountain Area
- Your vision for responsible recreation use in the Columbia Valley
- Your ideas and preferences for recreation management approaches and options
The deadline for all input is February 16, 2022. For more information, click here.