The Ministry of Forests has released a study on public recreation in Sea to Sky country that will serve as a base for the development of a comprehensive recreation management plan for the Squamish Forest District.
That recreation plan could ultimately slot into an overall Squamish Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP) but in the interim it is being used by the district as a management tool.
The study maps out the entire forest district into preliminary zones that are designated as suitable for either motorized or non-motorized public access.
One map has been compiled for summer and another for winter use.
A few sensitive areas including the Soo River Wetlands, Lillooet River East and Squamish River West have been marked for both non-motorized and limited recreation use.
Among the areas designated for non-motorized access on the winter map are: Tricouni Peak East, Cougar Mountain, the Whistler Interpretive Forest, Mount Brew area, Twenty-One Mile Creek, the Rainbow Mountain-Nineteen Mile Creek and Madely Lake areas, the Sims Creek alpine, the Joffre and Cayoosh alpine, Metal Dome, Cloudburst, Ashlu Creek alpine, the southern Elaho River alpine and the Upper Elaho River.
In all 42 zones have been tagged for potential management as areas off limits to public motorized access in winter. For summer, that number is increased to 44.
The study, finalized in November, was conducted by the Outdoor Recreation council at the request of the Ministry of Forests. It was funded through the provinces Land Use Co-ordination Office.
It is just one of many studies currently being spearheaded by LUCO with a view to gathering technical data that can be used to start public discussion on a comprehensive land use plan possibly an LRMP early next year.
The Forest Ministrys public recreation study will be one piece of the information puzzle presented at a series of open houses to be held throughout the corridor come late February or March, said LUCOs Peter Jones.
The public recreation study builds on the information collected for the B.C. Assets and Lands commercial recreation study that was rolled out in March this year.
LUCO is also currently conducting a socio-economic assessment of current conditions and trends in Sea to Sky country as well as an environmental assessment, noted Jones.
A carrying capacity study being conducted in the Cougar Mountain area by consultant Doug Leavers is also being funded by LUCO. His work is nearing completion and will be key in assessing the suitability of commercial recreation tenure applications in high-use areas.
As well, a Timber Supply Review has been under way and the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Environment are working on several initiatives with regards to old growth areas and wildlife management plans.
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