Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Non-Motorized Designation for the North Blue Backcountry Ski Area

The Banff Mountain Film Festival was a huge success and a great opportunity to get the word out about our Backcountry Ski Chalets and Blue River skiing in general.

Setting up in the Eric Harvey Theatre at the Film Festival!

he North Blue River valley where our Chalets and Licence of Occupation is situated has recently been designated Ungulate Winter Range Habitat or "Protected Mountain Caribou Habitat".

The trees around our crew tent from last winter are loaded with arboreal lichens...this is why it is protected Ungulate Winter Range specifically for Mountain Caribou.

This area is designated as "Ungulate Winter Range ID#3-004" This level of protection is specifically for preventing displacement of Mountain Caribou in their winter habitat". The high elevation forests that exist in the valley surrounding our chalets supports a rich source of arboreal lichens that are the primary winter food source for Mountain Caribou.

The BC Provincial Government supported a fourteen member independent mountain caribou science team that convened in 2005, under the direction of the Species at Risk Coordination Office (SaRCO) to identify potential constraints to the maintenance and recovery of Mountain Caribou populations. A draft of the recovery plan was released in November of 2006. The primary concern under the public recreation component was the huge problem of public snowmobiling in core Mountain Caribou habitat.

Cariboo tracks in the narrow valley bottom of the North Blue River - Snowy Mountain Tenure

Trees heavily laden with Caribou Food in the North Blue River headwaters.

Caribou Antler - Cariboos

During the spring we have observed that the Mtn.Caribou love to eat the fresh herbaceous shoots such as fireweed, groundsel, arnica when they emerge in the spring. In late spring the animals stay in the valley bottom where these plants are coming up in the natural openings. Unfortunately, we also see them munching heavily in the cut blocks where their winter food source used to grow.

During the summer the animals have a route that they use during daily migration between tree line and the valley bottom. This route is also used to escape predators from the narrow valley bottom during early and mid-winter. They also move up in elevation as the snow recedes or when the females separate from their group to give birth to young in late spring.

In the winter the family group that inhabits the valley bottom in the North Blue stay in the Old Growth forest in the lower middle section of the valley where they utilize the abundant and rich winter food source of lichens.

Below is a Mountain Caribou leg we found in March of 2010 in the North Blue River valley...we did not find the remainder of the carcass. It is suspected that the demise of this "Endangered Animal" was either due to a low elevation avalanche or predatory hunting by Wolverine.
In the North Blue River the Mtn.Caribou use the lichen rich old growth forest to sustain themselves throughout early and mid winter. In early December we can also find large groups of animals feeding above the trappers cabin on the north facing slopes.

The Mountain Caribou is listed as "threatened" if populations don't stabilize or recover to a sustainable level this ungulate could easily slip into the "Endangered" category. There are less than 1800 animals left in the world. The Mountain Caribou is a sub-species of woodland caribou, most closely related to the now extinct Peary Caribou.

Below are Wolverine tracks a few hundred meters above our Chalets from last February. The North Blue snowpack is not conducive for travel by Wolf packs as the snow is usually too deep and unconsolidated. Good for us not so good for wolfs.

However, the Wolverine exist in this valley in very high numbers...they also prey on vulnerable Mountain Caribou. The Wolverine is currently listed as a "species of concern" in Canada by Cosewic.

Below is just a small sample of the fine ski terrain of the North Blue...

We have engaged land managers, politicians and local stakeholders to formalize our commercial activities in the North Thompson. Receiving the first non-motorized multi-season commercial licence of occupation tenure in the North Thompson in the past 40 years. This also a first for a crown land tenure in the entire Cariboo Mountains that is self-propelled.

The north end of the Snowy Mountain Tenure...and the eastern boundary of Wells Gray Park will see additional mountain huts to facilitate excellent access to huge amounts of skiing terrain. Combine your spring ski trip to the North Blue with a traverse of the Southern Cariboos Haute Route...Summits and Icefields author Chic Scott.

So come and ski the Cariboos deep powder and long runs...we will guarantee you will not be disappointed.