More people are recreating in more places, more often, and going farther and faster using motorized and non-motorized means. Without careful planning, this steady growth can unintentionally add pressure to wild places and species, increase erosion and sedimentation, and undermine people’s experiences of nature.
Provincial governments in Alberta and British Columbia are developing recreation access and management plans to regulate recreation on public lands; however, quantifying the intensity and types of recreation activities is complex. Trails can be accessed from multiple points; the landscape available to recreate is immense; there are large numbers of recreationists and types of activities; and recreation varies by season. Efforts to date have mostly relied on metrics like road and trail density, and proximity to stream and rivers, but areas with many trails could be used very little by recreationists, and areas with comparatively few trails could be used intensively. A new approach is needed to identify the actual footprint of recreation in specific areas.
Given the growth of outdoor recreation, managing recreation has been identified as a priority by governments in Alberta and British Columbia. Our project is a partnership with researchers, managers, and provincial governments, and will ensure that the best available information can be used to develop management plans that will promote access to recreation and help reduce cumulative effects of outdoor recreation. This project will strengthen the information base to responsibly manage recreation and access, providing information on where and when to promote recreation to ensure protection of key freshwater resources and wildlife habitat, while also reducing potential conflicts across user groups.
Recreation provides spectacular opportunities for people to connect with nature, and can create lasting bonds and a desire to share wild places with family and friends. It can also reinforce public support for conserving wild places, including our all-important headwaters. But, as more people are traveling to the outdoors – further, faster, and louder than before – we need proactive access and recreation management. Well-managed outdoor recreation will ensure the natural resources we cherish are preserved for generations.
People are recreating in more places, more often, and going farther and faster than ever before. This can be commercial or recreational mountain biking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, and other off-highway vehicle recreation.
Without careful planning, this growth can unintentionally add pressure to wild places and species, increase tensions across users, and affect the quality of our outdoor experiences.
The results of this project can help ensure recreationists have access to the backcountry places they love while reducing impacts to wildlife, now and into the future.
This project is a multi-partner project led by Dr. Karine Pigeon, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). Working in western Canada for more than 15 years to understand how animals interact with their environments to improve human-wildlife coexistence, she has experience with industry, government, and communities. Her diverse background includes research on grizzly bears, wolves, and caribou, extensive field work and mapping expertise.
This project will work with recreationists, all levels of government, conservation groups, and other communities and stakeholders to study recreation and wildlife better in this region.