The Province, in partnership with Lil’wat Nation and Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative, is taking action to protect grizzly bears by closing two resource roads in the Upper Lillooet and Birkenhead River areas.
Starting this year, Birkenhead Lake Forest Service Road will be closed at the Cerulean Creek bridge (approximately 19 kilometres along the road) from July 15 to Oct. 30, 2018, and Lillooet South Forest Service Road will be closed at approximately the two-kilometre mark from April 1 to June 15, 2018, and Sept. 16 to Nov. 30, 2018. These annual closures are part of a continued effort to protect threatened grizzly bears in the Sea to Sky Natural Resource District.
The Upper Lillooet and Birkenhead River areas contain sensitive grizzly bear habitat. In addition to the areas' high natural productivity of high-energy food (specifically huckleberries and salmon), they provide multi-season core habitats for female grizzly bears and their cubs. The areas also serve as a natural-movement corridor that enables grizzlies and other wildlife to access other, more remote areas.
Road improvements to support resource development in the area have led to an increase of motorized public access. Closures on resource roads during these sensitive times decreases the risk of human encounters with female bears and cubs, as well as the likelihood of disturbing feeding bears.
The most recent closures are in addition to 13 previously announced closures that resulted from the 2008 Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan, and build on recommendations from the auditor general’s report on grizzly bear management. The decision is a result of land-use planning collaboration between the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative and Lil’wat Nation, and is based on the results of ongoing research of grizzly bear populations.
The closures were recommended in the report Motorized Access Management: Recommendations to Protect Grizzly Bears in the Upper Lillooet River Area. The report can be seen at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/dsq/Stewardship/Index.htm
Sea-to-Sky Land and Resource Management Plan: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/tasb/SLRP/plan79.html