The Future of Riding Mount Sproatt in Jeopardy
One of the more popular and iconic zones in British Columbia’s Sea to Sky region, Mount Sproatt is a sensitive area, as it contains part of the watershed for the village of Whistler.
The Twenty-One Mile Creek Watershed section of the area has for years been designated off-limits to snowmobilers. As a group, snowmobilers have received several warnings about non-compliance in the closure area, yet some people have continued to ride within the closure. The complaints have piled up, causing the situation to come to a head recently when the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development(FLNRO) enacted a limited ban on snowmobiling on Mount Sproatt.
Mount Sproatt Closure
The Mount Sproatt closure would be based on weather. When the ceiling is above 1800 meters (good visibility in the alpine), snowmobilers would not be permitted to ride. When it is below 1800 m (cloudy in the alpine), then snowmobilers would be allowed to ride.
For anyone who has ridden Sproatt, they know that while the tree riding is good, some of the best riding is in the subalpine and rolling alpine terrain. These freeride playground areas are only useable when visibility is good.
Local Sledders Rally to Prevent Closure from Taking Effect
A few local guys have stepped-up and invested their time—not in fighting, but working for a solution that would keep us riding an iconic riding zone with a history of motorized use. Thanks to the massive efforts of Ryan Thorley, Ryan Nadeau and Graham Roberge—along with the three local clubs lobbying—snowmobilers have been handed a grace period. FLNRO has allowed us the opportunity until February to prove that we as a group can abide by the watershed boundaries.
The December 6th meeting was instrumental in getting much of our local riding community together and on the same page. It was not about laying blame, but relaying information and coming up with a way to move forward. The resulting plan is a combination of compliancy, accountability, self-policing and positive messaging.
The Plan to Save Mount Sproatt
The first line is information. When you pull up to the booth and pay for access, you will now be handed a map that outlines the location of the Twenty-One Mile Watershed closure area. In addition, an app has been developed that can be downloaded to a rider’s smartphone, which will show the rider’s immediate location (even offline) in relation to the watershed.
Sledders are also being asked to share information about their day riding at Mount Sproatt. Riders are encouraged to take photos of the watershed boundary with no snowmobile tracks going into it, and share them to SaveSproatt.com/report, where they will be forwarded to FLNRO. This will accomplish two things. First, that we as a user group are respecting the watershed boundaries and only riding in the motorized zone. And second, to reinforce that Mount Sproatt is a popular place for snowmobiling, which will help establish our right to use the area and further highlight the economic benefits to the community brought by snowmobilers riding Sproatt.
Self-policing and compliance enforcement from within our community is the third objective. Riders are being requested not only to comply with the closure area, but to help enforce compliance by documenting any infractions. To assist with this, a trailhead camera will capture shots of everyone using the area. If necessary, those and other images may be used to report and help identify any offenders. This information will be passed along to local Conservation Officers, who may issue trespassing fines and/or property seizures to offenders.
The final message to motorized users is to get out and ride Mount Sproatt. The parking is limited to twenty-five vehicles and that needs to limit-out daily. It is important for the community to show that Sproatt is a popular motorized-use area, and that it is a part of our community. It is possible with this information to show that we are the larger user group here, and that we have a historic presence and present-day right to ride the area.
The Future of Riding Mount Sproatt
Mount Sproatt is an amazing zone that would be a terrible shame to lose. The keys to future use of the area have been handed to us, and it’s our responsibility now to respect the boundaries. At this point if we lose the area it will be as a direct result of our own failure to comply.
So please follow the steps and share the information with fellow riders. Join the Save Sproatt Facebook page and share it with your friends. Visit www.savesproatt.com for all the information, including links to the mapping and apps. And finally, join a local club. The future of riding Mount Sproatt is up to us—let’s not lose it.
Update Jan 3, 2019 – Ryan Thorley has checked in with a video update on the latest developments in the situation, here.