The British Columbia government is reminding everyone that it is illegal to build trails on Crown land without prior authorization.
British Columbians have plenty of opportunities to enjoy recreational activities in the great outdoors. Over the last two years, government staff has noticed an increase in unauthorized trail building in the Sea to Sky Recreation District. In April 2018, staff from BC Parks and the BC Wildfire Service joined forces to deactivate an unauthorized trail that began within Garibaldi Provincial Park, and extended to Crown land below the park.
Unauthorized trail construction can result in:
- soil erosion or soil compaction
- negative effects on water quality or water flow
- slope stability concerns
- negative impacts for other resource users
- safety and liability concerns, due to improperly built or maintained trails and structures
- the spread of invasive plants
- disruption of wildlife habitat or sensitive plant ecosystems
Government agencies, forestry licensees and local recreation groups work co-operatively to develop and maintain authorized trails, to minimize negative impacts on the landscape. Before anyone can build a trail on Crown land, they must first apply for permission to do so, and comply with the Forest and Range Practices Act.
Individuals or groups wishing to build or maintain a trail or other outdoor recreational facility must prepare a written proposal, and obtain provincial approval, before starting any such work. The consultation and referral part of the process ensures that the location of the trail is free of land-use conflicts, and will help build positive relationships with First Nations, user groups and stakeholders.
Natural resource officers from the Ministry Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development regularly patrol Crown land and enforce provincial regulations, often acting on tips from the public. Failure to comply with legislation related to trail construction could result in a penalty of up to $10,000, a remediation order to return the area to its original condition, and/or a jail term of up to six months.
Members of the public are encouraged to report illegal trails or suspicious activity by calling call 1 877-952-7277, toll-free (or #7277 on a cellphone). They can also submit a report about a suspected natural resource violation online: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm
- The 1,100,000-hectare Sea to Sky District lies in a northerly direction from the City of Vancouver. Highway 99 is the major road through the district, entering near Lions Bay and then winding its way along Howe Sound to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.
- In the Sea to Sky Recreation District, mountain biking is recognized as an important recreational pursuit, and of economic value to local communities. The area is well-known as a prime mountain biking destination in Canada.
- Recreation Sites and Trails BC partners with more than 20 recreational groups throughout the Sea to Sky Recreation District to manage, develop and maintain an extensive trail network
- Those partners include the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association and the Squamish Dirt Bike Association.
- Typically, 10 to 15 applications to construct or maintain trails are submitted to Recreation Sites and Trails BC each year in the Sea to Sky Recreation District.
- Since 2011, 55 trails have been authorized in the Sea to Sky Recreation District.
More information about the trail-building approval process is available on the Recreation Sites and Trails BC website at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/camping-hiking/sites-trails/program/maintenance-development