Some trained snowmobile enthusiasts will have access to areas previously closed off in the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges.

However, only BC Snowmobile Federation club members will be granted access, permit pending.

According to member and former President of the Kokanee Country Snowmobile club Trish Drinkle, 100% compliance last year between club members and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development  allowed for a deep level of trust.

Drinkle says permits were brought to the table because of the relationship garnered between clubs, science teams and the Conservation Officer’s service.

“No permits have been issued to clubs yet,” Dinkle explains. “But I have a small data collection team to see if there are any lingering caribou out there. We’ll be going out there for the next few days doing the data collection for the ministry and science teams.”

Purcell and Selkirk Mountain Caribou saw their population drop to dangerously low levels recently, and were moved to maternity pens near Revelstoke.

(image courtesy of safety expert and ambassador for Polaris Snowmobiles, Trish Drinkle)

Drinkle issues a warning to non-members.

“Those who are non-members of these (BCFS) clubs will not be permitted and there will be enforcement by conservation officers to ensure only properly permitted people are allowed to ride in these areas.”

This is in part due to the training and knowledge shared between club members which mitigate risk of personal injury and the environment.

“You know, we are a zero-impact sport,” Says Drinkle. “We leave no evidence, we leave no trace of our existence after the snow melts. We can have that conservation approach to accessing the backcountry and we can mitigate any sort of wildlife displacement through proper and appropriate behavior. That’s why, again, its important to be a part of your club so you’re in the loop of all that information.”

Drinkle says she was very happy to have learned of the news while teaching an all ladies snowmobile safety and recreation clinic in Valemount.