Snowmobile clubs in northern B.C. are concerned about the small percentage of sledders joining their clubs and how this could threaten their backcountry access.
According to the Prince George Snowmobile Club, although 5000 sleds have been registered in the Prince George area, the club has approximately 170 members – that’s roughly three per cent of the sledders in the region.
Dennis Firomski, president of the Burns Lake Snowmobile Club, says this is not just a Prince George problem.
“The Burns Lake Snowmobile Club has 36 members – a very small percentage compared to sleds in this town and area,” said Firomski. “Riding areas close by are being affected, and if you are not a member, you have no voice.”
The B.C. government and the Houston Snowmobile Club have recently signed a stewardship management agreement to protect caribou in the Skeena region. The agreement, which addresses the influence of recreation on northern caribou in the Telkwa Mountains, includes closing certain areas to recreation when there are caribou present.
“Locally, Smithers and Houston have recently lost or are going to lose areas we ride in; Tumbler Ridge lost huge amounts of their riding area,” said Firomski. “We need more registered members to show government how may sledders and ATVers there are in this province.”
“If the club has a small membership, it doesn’t have a large voice,” he added.
In a post that’s been shared over 400 times, Meghan Bosecker with the Prince George Snowmobile Club stresses the importance of joining snowmobile clubs.
“Your province needs to know you ride; they need to know where you ride,” she writes. “They need to know because otherwise they think it’s a dying sport and that they can start closing areas that are deemed snowmobile recreation sites because no one cares.”
“I think sledders care; I think they care a lot more about the areas they ride than anyone else,” she continues. “Your club is the only way you, as a sledder, have any recognition anywhere as a snowmobiler.”
Amber worries that government efforts to protect caribou will continue to threaten riding areas in northern B.C.
“When they [government] see that there is only 170 sledders here [in the Prince George area], guess who’s going to be on the chopping block first for riding areas if that’s how they choose to deal with this issue.”
Burns Lake Snowmobile Club rates are $75 for primary riders, $50 for secondary and $20 for seniors, children and non-riders. The non-rider memberships are for people who are not sledders but still would like to support the club.
Members get discounts on insurance for their sleds/quads/side-by-sides and dirt bikes. Memberships are available at Lino’s Sales and Services, Outdoor Adventures, and on the club’s website.