Many people enjoy hiking, biking, camping, dirt biking, horse riding, bird watching, climbing, hunting, picnicking or just being in the grasslands of British Columbia. The expansiveness and easy accessibility of many of the grassland areas make them very attractive for numerous recreational activities.
Such activities are compatible with the health and sustainability of the grasslands and the species that inhabit them, if people follow some simple guidelines. To assist people in caring for the grasslands they enjoy, the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia (GCC), in partnership with several organizations and goverment, has developed a couple of documents that outline how to minimize or prevent damaging these sensitive habitats.
The GCC, in partnership with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, facilitated the development of this document with a wide range of commercial and non commercial recreation interests. The Best Management Practices (BMP) document was developed with input and careful review from over 40 organizations, resulting in a comprehensive code of practice developed by the user, for the user. The Best Management Practices for Recreational Activities document focuses on the following:
- Grasslands in the Thompson and Okanagan Basins (Interior grasslands),
- Commercial recreational activities (recognising that many of the ideas will probably also apply to non-commercial activities), and
- Both motorized and non-motorized forms of recreation.
Building on the success of the BMP document, the GCC developed an educational ‘pocketbook’ specifically for motorized recreation groups, commercial operators and individuals: Best Management Practices for Motorized Recreation on BC’s Grasslands. The BMP pocketbook addresses the impacts of motorized recreation on grasslands and strategies to limit those impacts. It's designed to be user-friendly and fit into the front shirt pocket of ORV enthusiasts for easy reference.\
Similar to the BMP document, the BMP pocketbook for motorized recreation was developed in consultation with motorized recreation and other interests – including ATV/BC, the BC Snowmobile Federation, the Pacific Northwest Motorcycle Association and the Invasive Plant Society – to ensure this educational piece speaks to the users effectively. Thousands of copies of the BMP pocketbook were distributed to government and user groups. For information on where to get copies of the booklet, please contact the GCC.
Mountain Biking on BC’s Grasslands
The GCC has been part of a task force helping guide the development of a provincial strategy for mountain biking on crown land. The GCC’s involvement has had to do with ensuring that users are aware of the sensitivities of grasslands when building trails and riding within grasslands. The provincial strategy is in draft form, with several pilot projects, including one taking place in the Cariboo on grasslands. The GCC will monitor this project and the effects that the trail standards (taken from the International Mountain Biking Association) have on sensitive grassland soils and plants and make recommendations for the final strategy. The GCC is also planning on developing a similar BMP pocketbook for mountain bike riders using grasslands and has formed a committee with members of local bike clubs and naturalists groups to help with both the strategy and the pocketbook.
For information about other aspects of this project, contact the GCC or call (250) 374-5787.