Heli Biking application in the Pemberton area-express your views to the government

Blackcomb Helicopters is applying to increase helicopter traffic up to four times in the Pemberton area to allow for heli biking at Tenquille-Owl lakes.

The government is still receiving comments on the application. Deadline was extended until July 26. Follow this link for more information and make your views known.

For the record, the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC and the Pemberton Wildlife Association (PWA) have formally opposed this Application. PWA provides volunteer management and maintenance of the trails and wilderness camps and cabins in that area.

Voice your opinion, every response counts. Deadline is July 26.

Identifier is Lands file#: 2411936

READ: the short application: https://arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/viewpost.jsp?PostID=55367

Have your say: Near the bottom of the page under ‘End Decisions’ you will see “To Comment on this application please click [ here ].”

Mail in Option: Senior Land Officer/FLNRORD, #200 – 10428 153rd St., Surrey BC V3R 1E1

Or email to same: AuthorizingAgency.Surrey@gov.bc.ca

CC comments to: Nicola Bickerton, FLNRORD Nicola.Bickerton@gov.bc.ca, Jordan Sturdy, MLA – Jordan.Sturdy.MLA@leg.bc.ca

More details and background info

The Pemberton Wildlife Association (PWA) partners with Rec Sites & Trails BC, providing volunteer management and maintenance of the trails and wilderness camps/cabin within Tenquille to Owl Lake Recreation Area (TOLRA).

The goal is to maintain a high-quality (3 season) Wilderness experience for hikers/backpackers and self-propelled mountain-bikers while protecting the flora and fauna that so many enjoy.

PWA needs your input to preserve the peaceful trails, alpine valleys and camping that TOLRA has offered the local community & visitors for generations.

Blackcomb Helicopters (BH) is applying for a Commercial Heli-biking Tenure(license) in the TOLRA. They currently conduct heli-biking, using the main Tenquille Lake historic trail (est.1917) and a connecting artery (Mt Barbour trail) from an alpine landing zone. Their tenure application proposes by 2020, to triple traffic on this trail (over 2016 traffic) and add 3 new trails - swelling overall Descent Days to 2400 - just in TOLRA. A ratio of flights to group numbers would equate to near 400 flights/season - ferrying between 4 alpine trails. This is a significant increase in helicopter over-flights and cargo of downhill velocity riders. It is impossible to not see how this peaceful refuge for humans and animals would be negatively impacted.

TOLRA is an increasingly rare alpine recreation area in the Sea to Sky region. The tsunami of tourism pressure has overwhelmed the carrying capacity of many – think Joffre Lakes! Though not difficult, the effort of hiking/pedaling into TOLRA is its saviour. Taxiing significant numbers of ’Resort Downhill Park riders’ into this sensitive alpine environment is simply incompatible.

The debate about heli-biking in the TOLRA has been going on for over ten years. The PWA has consistently objected to the activity due to environmental impacts and the loss of wilderness values in the area. This application now going through the referral process provides an opportunity to let the government know how you feel about this type of recreation. The responsibility for this new tourism industry lies squarely in their court. We believe that both tenured and unregulated public heli-biking should be put on hold until the Province develops stringent legislation to manage the activity and determine where it is appropriate.

The PWA’s specific interest is within the borders of TOLRA although the application proposes Heli-biking Trails outside this Recreation area as well.

The PWA prefers not to have Heli-biking in TOLRA.

Please keep in mind that Blackcomb Helicopters is a reputable local company whom we have a good working relationship with. This is not “us” against “them”. The PWA acknowledges their helpful support for their current use. Blackcomb Helicopters cannot be blamed for seeking to expand business, although we disagree with the locale.

It is the government that makes the decision and who MUST HEAR FROM YOU.

PWA main concerns with the application are :

  • Tripling of heli-biking decent days (over 2016 numbers) on the main trail with a plan to add 3 more trails bringing total descent days to 2400 just within TOLRA.

  • the above will equate to approx. 400 helicopter overflights between 4 trails - severely impacting the peaceful refuge for humans and animals.

  • degradation of a quality alpine wilderness area enjoyed by generations of (non-winter) self propelled visitors.

  • instant delivery of large groups, overwhelming the threshold of manageable visitation (carrying capacity) appropriate for a sensitive alpine environment.

  • erosion of volunteer support due to perceived aid of a commercial activity they don’t agree with.

  • no Gov’t legislation in place to determine proper locale, guidelines or enforcement specific to this NEW commercial activity.

  • concern that the Govt agency making the decision will be based outside the region and not consider their regional staff or local community’s advice.

One thought on “Heli Biking application in the Pemberton area-express your views to the government

  1. Reading an interesting book called ‘ One Square Inch of Silence’ one man’s quest to preserve quiet by Gordon Hempton. Natural silence is our fastest-disappearing resource. The loss of quiet is literally the loss of awareness. The noise impact of aircraft on the wilderness reduces a persons & animals range of hearing. In the quiet of the backcountry it is possible to can hear nature sounds from miles & miles away. Let’s keep it that way.

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