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BCAL anticipates new stability in backcountry

Applicants to be notified of tenures this week

The British Columbia Lands and Assets Corporation will be releasing its decisions on "dozens of commercial recreation applications" during the next few days, including all summer backcountry tenure applications and some for the 2001-02 winter.

David Reilley, BCAL’s special projects spokesperson, says land officers have been ploughing through the 31 summer applications advertised throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor over the past two months and have reached decisions on all of them. Recommendations on winter applications that were in the system and advertised prior to BCAL’s transition cut-off date of Dec. 29, 2000 will also be made public.

Reilley says very few applications have been declined in the current batch but most now include new terms and conditions. This is to prevent conflicts between operators, protect the environment and ensure ongoing public access to public lands, he says.

BCAL’s Charles Littledale adds that most of the tenures will span three to five years, but some may be as short as 12 months.

"BCAL needs to fine-tune some of the approved applications and the shorter terms give greater flexibility, especially when the time comes to renew the short-term leases," he says. "The dust will have settled by then and BCAL will be in a position to award the standard 10 to 20 year leases."

All the applications have been referred by BCAL to other provincial agencies, including the Ministry of Forests, B.C. Parks and municipal authorities. Other stakeholders, groups such as the Federation of Mountain Clubs and the Canadian Wilderness and Parks Society, were also consulted, as well as the public through information houses in the corridor.

Reilley says a batch of decision letters will be faxed to the applicants en-masse, to prevent one company knowing its fate ahead of another. He says the letters will be followed by a formal tenure offer being sent out to applicants at the end of May. He anticipates the mood in the backcountry being considerably different this summer.

"It is the first time we have had a tool to prevent the overuse of land and protect public access – it brings a whole new stability."

BCAL plans to review the remaining winter commercial recreation tenure applications over the next few months, with final decisions due by late November. After that BCAL says it will be ready to start accepting applications for new backcountry operations.