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Forestry in BC’s Recreation Areas Conference
November 7, 2015
Holiday Inn, West Kelowna, BC
Jeff Brown, Apex Property Owners Association (APOA)
Debra Demare, Bridge River Valley Community Association Trails Committee
Sal Demare, Bridge River Valley Community Association Trails Committee
Michael Dillon, Kelowna ATV Club
Joanne Doddridge, District of 100 Mile House
Andrew Drouin, Okanagan Trails Alliance
Gordon Galloway, Elkford ATV Club
Juanita Gibney, Back Country Horseman of BC
Bill Hadden, District of 100 Mile House
Lyndie Hill, Hoodoo Adventures
Kyle Hilsendager, University of Vancouver Island
Lannie Keller, Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group
Ralph Keller, Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group
Barry Lang, APOA
Richard Leslie, Nickelplate Nordic Centre
Evan Loveless, Wilderness Tourism Association of BC
Stu Maitland, Guide Outfitters Association of BC
Denis O’Gorman, APOA
Jennifer Pipe, Horse Council of BC
Isabel Pritchard, Horse Council of BC
Phil Rogers, BC Federation of Fly Fishers
Ben S-P, BC Mountaineering Club
Robert St. John, Federation of Mountain Clubs
Meghan Tabor, Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce
Elena Tilton, APOA
Julia Valenti, APOA
Allen Walker, Quad Riders Association of British Columbia
Dennis Webb, Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia
– – – – – – – –
Rod Edward of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band stopped by to observe and offer his comments.
Twenty-eight people representing twenty recreation and tourism organizations met at this grassroots forum to discuss the impact current forestry practices in British Columbia are having on the recreation users these stakeholders represent.
This conference grew out of:
- A growing sense that the collective interests of BC’s diverse recreation-oriented stakeholders are not always being addressed adequately within current forestry regulation practices, and
- The lack of an obvious forum to focus on this issue.
Presentations and Activities
- Jeff Brown of the APOA opened the meeting with a presentation describing the forestry events that have occurred over the last three years in the Apex intensive recreation area located east of Penticton. The intensive logging that has occurred and is planned over the next five years is a concern for many property owners/recreation users in the area.
- Kyle Hilsendager, PhD – Forestry/Tourism Management, University of Vancouver Island, presented the results of his research findings with respect to the Recreation Users Survey he completed earlier this year.
- Jeff separated the participants into four groups for a brainstorming activity using Post-it Notes. Groups were to write one issue/concern per Post-it note related to intensive forestry practices in their respective area(s). The notes were then grouped according to topic/theme. Those themes were summarized and projected on a screen for the attendees to see. The attached spreadsheet documents the notes classified by stakeholder group and topic area.
- Evan Loveless, Executive Director of the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC, presented an overview of forestry and tourism regulation practices at the provincial level as well as his recommended modifications to provincial forestry regulation.
Stakeholder Ideas and Experiences Shared with the Group
After the formal presentations and the brainstorming activity the floor was opened for group discussion. The following is an attempt to summarize that free-flowing conversation. Note: During note taking it was not always possible to capture the name of the person speaking. That is why many of the comments are not attributed to a specific name, in those cases the comment is attributed to “participant”.
Participant – The All Seasons Resorts Policy has a tie-in to what we’re doing. Specifically, from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations website, Mountain Resorts Branch page: “Guidelines have been developed in order to foster well-balanced, environmentally sensitive tourism development throughout the province of British Columbia.” www.for.gov.bc.ca/mountain_resorts/rules/guidelines.htm
Participant – The UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) is very powerful and stakeholders could have one-to-one conversations with their respective city reps. UBCM webpage: http://www.ubcm.ca
Participant – A stakeholders group could be formed as a type of delegation and approach the Forestry industry.
Participant – Organize in a format similar to Destination BC – for example owners associations, volunteers, recreation users – all become umbrella organizations underneath a large one.
Participant – Some have had success with a letter writing campaign to government officials. If enough letters reach the MLA and they’re not form letters, they mean something.
Participant – It is time to reach out to four or five organizations (like Oliver Mountain) and join together, as a delegation of sorts, and speak with the Forestry industry. Others in the room shared that had already been done, in some cases, with limited success.
Multiple participants – The Provincial Trails Advisory Body (PTAB) was discussed. Per the website (http://mountainclubs.org/resources/access-and-trail-organizations/the-provincial-trails-advisory-body-ptab), the “Provincial Trails Advisory Body will attempt to refine and implement the Trails Strategy for British Columbia, the guiding document for PTAB, RSTBC, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and for the BC Government as a whole. The PTAB is comprised of representatives from various outdoor recreation organizations as well as provincial and local government agencies.” It was suggested that someone from the group at this conference could go speak with PTAB (note: attendees Robert St. John and Andrew Drouin are associated with this organization).
Participant – Someone should speak with a representative of the First Nations. One participant said “we approached the local First Nations and the First Nations said they didn’t want to talk to us. They said we don’t talk to you, we’re our own nation and speak directly to the government.”
Denis O. asked about the focus of the PTAB. Could it be a coordinated input into timber planning reflecting recreation, if so, what is the way to make sure it happens at planning and operational levels? Is there something there, even in an embryonic form?
Evan said however we coordinate ourselves, multiple tools need to be used to input into government and other groups that we need to try and influence. It’s not just provincial government by any means – that’s just one group to get the ear of. So PTAB may be part of that, there are other things going on. Soon there will be a launch of an industry organization with government to talk about some of these things and it does involve the ski resort organization (the real money is made off of real estate) – if you’re aligned with them on that aspect . . . we need to start changing the conversation a little bit. Same thing with the hotel association – they’ll listen to the hoteliers because they think that’s where the money is.
Denis said – if you could open the door to Canada West Ski Association that would be good … they don’t answer our (property owners association) phone calls. They view themselves as resorts exchanging with other.
Isabel – in many areas Gorman Brothers has always referred stuff back to us. So few people actually understand what the forest industry does – we need tutelage about how the industry works and we don’t know what they do or what they have a license to do. Any group that comes together needs to have a forestry member on the board and explain things in some detail.
Rep from Discovery Islands Marine Tourism said aligning with business resources, people who have a similar interest in the land you have, can be successful; in the Discovery Islands that’s been pretty successful. The investment is mostly in the land itself, and that’s where our interests lie – the overlap between recreation non-commercial and commercial is just about perfect. Everything we do as businesses enhances recreation – so we work back and forth, we consider the BC Marine Trails organization an ally and vice versa. If you come cross as not too radical, they’ll help fund what you need to get done. Politically it’s a very astute alliance (commercial and non-commercial recreation stakeholders) and you don’t have to compromise your values.
Isabel – There was a small group of volunteers trying to get a park – later trying to redevelop the park — after a fire in 2003. They then went out and reestablished the trails with the help of mountain bike and horsemen clubs. They now have companies sponsoring trails.
Participant – Their organization belongs to the woodlot federation and has about 1% of the annual cut. They were established about 20 years ago and they are self-funded. They don’t rely on lobbying and have been pretty successful. It was suggested that recreation organizations need to fund themselves.
Denis O. – yes with a woodlot there is some cash flow, but most other recreation groups are just volunteers. We need to start getting some coordinated input and views on policy and regional applications for the next round of LRMPs or controversial cut proposals, etc. Creating an opportunity for a coordinated voice from recreation users would be worth putting some seed money into whichever umbrella group it falls under. It would help put some stability into this process.
Rep from Discovery Islands Marine Tourism – we could have gotten the evidence that said they’re wrecking our environment, but the government heard it from Evan and PTAB and a whole bunch of businesses that there was an economic impact, and that’s why we got our meeting. It’s important for recreation users to go to their MLA and ask for meetings with Steve Thompson, because if you just ask Evan to add it to their agenda, it’s going to get lost. You have to find the time.
Denis O. said our organization has done that, but the apparatus just isn’t working. Let’s work on a policy solution.
Rep from Discovery Islands Marine Tourism – today the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA) is up for discussion whereas it wasn’t a while ago. The FRPA has started to get a look at by ministers. We may be getting somewhere, albeit not fast enough. He urges us to keep pestering. Go to the media – press releases.
Deb DeMare – Our community has done a lot of the same kinds of things. She sees the need as a linkage of information – solidarity. Sharing of information and connecting – getting out of the silos. She was part of the founding group of literacy BC – people throughout BC working on it. The need was to connect, share, strengthen each other.
Dennis W. – to carry on what Deb just said, ORC helped create CRAG, why can’t we help create something similar here? We would come and facilitate for you your first couple meetings or so, bring everyone together and see if we can get them to join together – CRAG Okanagan? If you get that together, it might take a few years – who knows? But once that organization is up and running – took CRAG 6 years – but they are very powerful now.
Participant – Suggestion to not separate tourism and recreation. Let’s call it recreation. Question to Dennis W. is – why does ORC exist?
Dennis W. – his job as chairman is to chair the meetings that are primarily organized by executive director who points them in the right direction. The mission is to bring together outdoor recreation groups, non-commercial. There are spelunkers, cavers, etc. Membership is provincial organizations (23 voting member groups). They are an advocacy group, not a lobbying group.
Participant – we foundered along for 10 years until we finally got organized and paid some fees and hired a person. This is a big group by the way, and you’re on the right track with some big problems. Somehow you have to come together and fund a good person to front your cause. Right now you’re trying to affect regulatory change – once you do that, many of your problems will disappear.
Participant – We have 27 people here – if we have another meeting, could we get 100 people here? Out of this group if we made a small group – could it evolve into a larger grouping? This problem requires a big group acting together.
Participant – BC’s Elevator Pitch – “Beautiful British Columbia” — tourists see a barren landscape that doesn’t match that slogan.
Participant – Our mission should be to effect change in the way we use our public lands.
Rep from Discovery Islands Marine Tourism – they did an interesting thing when they were starting up their organization: all businesses had a meeting with Discovery Island businesses – not just tourism. They contacted real estate, building supply, construction businesses. When thinking about tourism it’s easy to think about someone coming and leaving – but what about the tourist who says “wow – I’m going to move here”. Tourism is the bait. The socio-economic body has to support ways to get change.
Participant – Don’t the three points of Evan’s presentation for the Wilderness Tourism Association cover what we want? It would align us – we could create the lead-in and ending paragraphs that bring us all together. The core of it is to increase public input into the forest practices.
Evan’s three points from his presentation:
- Complete higher-level direction to guide planning and practice
- Improve stakeholder and public engagement in operational planning
- Clarify roles, accountabilities and authorities for delivering FRPA
Participant – Suggestion of a group that may be interested: FACT– Forestry and Community in Transition.
Evan – There is another organization to consider that’s out there – Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities – Bill Bourgeois. They’ve done a ton of work on all this stuff. Evan uses them as a source of input on a lot of the work they do. They have a similar challenge with funding. He’s tried to keep it going but can only do so much.
Evan – traditionally Tourism BC has had a marketing mandate. But that’s going to change to include destination development, although what that means is unclear. There may be some opportunity to align with them in the future.
Participant – “I wasn’t suggesting we form yet another organization – it seems to me we have one issue: logging encroaching on our recreation values. I was thinking what we need is this conference times 10 and inviting in more stakeholders” such as UBCM, regional districts. There are a lot more of us out there. If it was advertised, someone in the government might say “oh, what’s happening – something’s happening, and it’s getting bigger”. Much was learned from the two speakers today, and there are a lot of other issues.
Participant – Include the Forest Practices Board to speak at a future meeting.
Deb is going to talk to the Southern Beetle Coalition and they might be interested in funding something like this.
Participant – Perhaps get some politicians on board. Also what role could the provincial recreation organizations play – the ones that cover each of the organizations represented here today?
Participant – Every two years Washington State has a Washington State Trails conference. They had stakeholders from everywhere – even the governor from Washington. Get some commitment from the two provincial groups (Evan and Dennis W.) to see if it makes sense to have a conference.
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