Course:FRST370/Wiki Projects/Community Based Mountain Bike Trail Management in Sea to Sky Corridor, British Columbia, Canada

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This case study focus on the biking communities, specifically mountain bike communities along Sea to Sky Corridor (S2S). The trail systems along S2S have been growing tremendously since the early 80s, along with the community approaches of forest resources management. As pioneering regions of the mountain biking world, coastal British Columbia established tenure agreements that generate sustainable community economy while maintaining ecological integrity. This case study explore different interested stakeholders and affected stakeholders, as well as land use agreements that associated with mountain bike industries, and potential environmental impacts. Multiple committees and biking associations were established as conflicts resolution and community management approach, including the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA), the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORC), the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORC), and Pemberton Off-Road Cycling Association (PORC) in this region.

Regional Map of Sea to Sky

Background information

S2S corridor is the region along coastal BC that stretch between city of Vancouver to Pemberton through Whistler and Squamish. As part of the people's lifestyle in this region, outdoor recreations have been growing tremendously since the 1980s and recognized globally[1]. However, the rapid growth of biking community and individuals, as well as trails building have been conflicting different stakeholders that share common purpose of recreations in the forest, including hikers, land owners, governments, and even within bikers. Meanwhile, economical benefits that was brought by mountain biking in this regions was tremendous, and solely 70.6 millions was spent by tourists in 2016[2].

Major Types of Trail (Tenure) System

There are two main type of trail (tenure) system, including designated single use trail system and multi-purposed trail system. In this case study, the tenure would be defined as the recreational forests lands.

Designated Single Use Trail System

A single use trail system serve single purpose and usually single type of stakeholder. Generally, the users of this systems are more concentrated in one certain area due to crowding[3]. In some cases, this type of system can help to relieve conflicts between stakeholders through separation[4], although it is not an efficient and effective system to share the community resources[3], and potentially terrorized different stakeholders[3].

Multi- Purposed (Shared) Trail System

The right of way should be considered during the building process of multi-purposed trail system.

Multi- purposed trail system accommodates most of the common needs and interests from different stakeholders, and it is the most common trail system[3].Meanwhile, the shared trail system engage community to build common respects and common trusts, and it is easier to manage[3]. However, this is also the most common type of trail system that result in conflicts between stakeholders if traffic heavily[3].

Direct and Indirect Conflicts with other Stakeholders


Interpersonal conflict may be contributed by different in travel speeds, lack of courtesy, safety concerns, and difference in expectations[5]. Generally, these conflicts occur between different recreational stakeholders who share similar outdoor resources, such as skiers and snowmobilers, horsebacks riders and backpackers and so[5]. Additionally, social values differences between bikers and hikers are also significant factor of the interpersonal conflicts, since mountain biking is a less traditional use of outdoor resources, both stakeholders share different world-views and generalization result in reduce on tolerance[5].

2015: 64-years-old female Tineke Kraal  was caught placing traps across popular trails on Mountain Fromme and facing criminal charges[6][7]. Although individual's reasons for setting traps was not explained, the conflict was believe to be overcrowded trail system[8].

Land Owners

Public Land Owners (Governments)

80s-90s: A lot of builders in North Vancouver don't have authorities to build trails on public land, since these trails may cause potential environmental damages[9], However, due to the growing popularity of mountain biking, more trials were built on public land without authorization. Municipalities and government agencies had taken down many of these trails[9]. During this phase, these trail system are statutory tenure that wasn't legal, since builders didn't acquire legal permits.

1997: Establishment of North Shore Mountain Bike Association formulates responses toward degradations of these tenures[10].

2006: Provincial Government of British Columbia released this statement to accommodate the growing demand for outdoor recreational trail while providing a safe and sustainable trails system[11]. Details of trail building approval on public land that belong to Provincial Government of British Columbia may include safety and risks management programs, as well as stakeholders’ conflicts resolving. This guideline allow state property to have co-management with other parities[11]

Private Land Owners

A single was post close to old buck trail at the lower Seymour Mountain by CMHC.

2006: BC Timber Sales was planning to log on land that contains mountain bike trails in Squamish, and multiple non-meaningful consultations were conducted[12]. After decade, BC timber allows to leave 50m of buffer along the trails, and there were a lot of positive supports and feedback [12].

2014: BC Timber Sales were planning to clear cut an area in Squamish that contains a bike trail Half Nelson, and negotiation between SOCA were conducted[13]. Liabilities issues were discussed during the process as well[13].

2016: Mountain Seymour bike trails were shut down by the land owner, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Cooperation (CMHC), due to its development in land use planning[14]. "No trespassing signs" were put, and no consolations or notices were given by CMHC[15]. These areas were reopened afterward.


A mapping system Trail-fork combine different data and GIS, land owner boundaries are added to existing outdoor recreational map system[16]. This technology provides possible solution to reduce potential conflicts between stakeholders.

  • This technology helps recreational trial users to determine whether they can use or access to certain land, as well as builders[16].
  • Areas that are currently restricted for outdoor recreations are highlighted[16].
  • Constructions of trails at restricted areas without permit can result in fine and jail time[17] due to its potential ecological impacts.


The bikers' conflicts would generally cause by their preferences on trail type. In fact, study shows that majority of rider in North Shore prefer more downhill orientated trail systems, and biker's satisfactions generally determine their selection on riding destinations[18]. Other facilities such as parking availability, accommodation availability, maintenance of trail system would affect riders' selection of destination, and could result in overcrowd in some tenure system[19].

2012: Biker died on Cypress Mountain Trails due to injuries form a technical feature[20]. Incapabilities of riding certain trails or features can result in significant conflicts between trail and rider.

Legal Tenure (Permission) Licence Systems

Authoring Recreational Mountain Bike Trails (Tenure) on Provincial Crown Land

Crown land is the land that is owned by the provincial government of British Columbia. This type of land is available to the public for many different purposes – from industry to recreation and research[21].

Crown Land Boundary Sign

Ministry of Tourism, Sport and Art (MTSA) released practices to authorize multi- use recreational trails so that these tenure would be safe, properly located, and would not result in stakeholders' conflicts and environmental damages[11]. Details of trail building approval on Crown Land may also include safety and risks management programs, as well as stakeholders’ conflicts resolving, and allows state property to have co-management with other parities[11].

Provincial government listed specific requirements in terms of safety and risks management for the tenure[11] :

  • Builders should follow guidelines from IMBA and Whistler Trail Standards during the processes of building, and provincial authorizations are always required for existing trails and proposed trail[11].
  • Authorization will be made by recreation officer with certain requirements, such as land issue and consultant with tenure holders, along with on site investigations[11].
  • Liability insurance should be maintained at all time, and stakeholders need to work together to guarantee safety[11].
  • Technical Trail features (TTF) should be set up properly and monitored.
    • If there are issues relate to public safety, user resources conflicts, environmental impact issues, or agreements are declined, mangers and recreation officer will be notified[11].

Once trails system meets all certifications and requirements, recreation officer will assist multi- year permit holder to gather supports from sponsor and the communities. Trail agreements will be reinforced by recreation officer[11].

Once applications was processed, legal tenure such as lease, Licence of Occupation, or temporary licence could be acquired[22].

Authoring Recreational Mountain Bike Trails (Tenure) on Municipal Land

Procedures are similar to crown land, permits are required from Municipality with proposed management programs[23] .

Authoring Recreational Mountain Bike Trails (Tenure) on Private Land

On private land, negotiate to obtain formal access to the trail corridors for recreational uses where appropriate, such as rights-of-way, and locate, build and maintain trails based on sustainable trail standards, and common between biker communities and land owner should be reached[24].

Existing Tenure Program

“Trail Adaption Program” (TAP) of the North Shore

Trail Adoption Program (TAP) provided by NSMBA is a great example of non-commercial land use tenure management approach, and it has been a success since 2013.

  • Trail adopters will pay annual adoption fee, royalties, as well as providing trail maintenance[25].
  • Trail adopters will also have professional guidance, local communities supports, and some other benefits as returns[25].
  • Commercial business operators may also provide other benefits toward the communities[25].
  • Some private commercial operators provide funding to the community’s trail building program for good reputations and royalties[25].
  • The program has contributed over 15000 hours of labor to the trails while remaining focused on sustainable solutions [26].
The North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) Community Trail Day

“Trail Master Plan” (TMP) of Squamish

The Trail Master Plan (TMP) from the District of Squamish and SOCA aims to provide a long-term strategy for community-based trail networks. Through providing every detail about trail building, Squamish residents and visitors’ life quality can be improved, and local economy can be broadened and strengthen, while maintaining environmental conditions. Restriction and responsibilities of different stakeholders are listed in the Trail Master Plan. This plan explains the rights of accessing and using the state tenure of Squamish, as well as giving the certified individuals with the management right, such that they are allowed to build and maintain the trail system.[27]

  • Some of these trails are located at Crown land and some are located on privately owned lands. Only small amount is located on District owned lands. Some of land existing tenures may require cooperation between District and Provincial governments [23][27].
  • Some Crown or publicly owned landed have existing or pending trail system in place[27].
  • Some informal trails on publicly owned land and Crown land with no agreements require commitment for maintenance[27].
  • Trails on privately owned lands will need owner’s commitment to a Right- of- Way agreement, or License of Occupation[27].
  • Sections of Forest and Range Practice Acts (FRPA) states some restriction for establishing Trails on Crown Lands, and these restrictions need to be secured as part of the land tenure[27].
  • These trails must be given considerations during land- use planning decision, and they must need to be allowed by the Minister before establishment[27].
  • These trails must be used as purpose of public recreation[27].
    • For Private Lands, agreements for public trails will need to be secured as part of the land tenure[27].
      • Establish a Trail Right of Way
      • Create a Trail Easement/ License Agreement
      • Contribute the trail as part of an amenity contribution
      • Use Development Cost Charge funds collected at time of development for trail relocation, if some of these trails are lost to development and required relocation, abandon if necessary
      • Land use Development Servicing Agreements ensure the provision of trail infrastructure, which secure the land tenure
  • Liability issues programs need to apply to all lands, which may include policies, standards, inspections, maintenance programs and signages. Since resources, funds, staff are limited, trail construction need to reach standards to minimize risks and maximize cost- effective effects[27].
    • Determine signage for multiple use or single use
    • Provide proper features and facilities for skill developments
    • Place technical features properly
    • Use a trail filters as gateway or qualifier
    • Provide optional lines
    • Provide adequate fall zone
    • Follow construction guide lines, and best environmental practices
      • A conflict management plan is developed as part of the TMP
  • Steps of conflict resolutions may include: Consulting, meetings, decision from jurisdiction and monitoring[27].

2011 Adopt a Trails Risk Management Strategy and develop a funding plan

2011-2012 develop trail standards and maintenance programs

2011- 2015 Trail Network Marketing Plan and New Trails Constructions

“Strategic Plan” and "WHISTLER BLACKCOMB MASTER PLAN " of Whistler

Strategic plan provides guides and focus on on resources management from 2017- 2020, as the Blackcomb Master Plan provide a long-term strategy for outdoor recreations, such as biking, back country skiing and so.

  • Guidelines for development, maintenance and protection of Whistler’s off-road, non-motorized trail network are provided in the plan[28]
  • Local and regional governments, First Nations, developers, utility operators, private land owners, the community forest and other stakeholders will be consulted to keep non-motorized trails open and accessible to locals and visitors[28].
    • Inputs from different stakeholders will be considered and accommodate to ensure diversity and capacity[28].
  • Risk management plan will need to improved to accommodate insurance requirements[28].
  • Commercial recreational operators must acquire legal tenure of special permit to operate[29].

Economic Impacts

Multiple studies shows the economic values of mountain biking along S2S corridor in 2016, including communities of North Shore, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, compare with study from 2006[30]. As mountain biking is gaining popularity, allowing community sustainably managing the forest tenure can generate great amount of economic benefits[30].

Peak season event: Crankworx at Whistler

All 4 places have generated significant amount revenue from 2006- 2016. More jobs and wages are supported by mountain biking industries. Even significant amount of provincial GDP is boosted due to mountain bike industries.

  • Majority of the visitors came from outside of S2S region, and expense of staying over contributed significant amount to the revenue.
  • Taxes related to biking industries increased from 8.3 million to 18.6 million in the past 10 years.
  • Wages that were generated during the 10 years period moved from 16.1 million to 35.9 million.
  • Total visitor expenditures increased from 31.7 million to 70.6 million
    • Pemberton has the lowest contribution toward the growth, although it still has economic growth throughout 10 years period
      • Pemberton is recommended to has higher capacity so that it could attach more riders for visiting
  • More riders can generate more revenue, and part of the revenue would allow better trail management systems. Better trail management systems would gain Sea to Sky corridor better reputations
  • More famous trails are built and maintained throughout the 10 years period
  • Beside tourism related industries, many local businesses that are outside riding areas are also benefited. The traffic along Sea to Sky significantly increased throughout the 10 years period.   
  • Mountain bike is becoming a new form of trending tourism and development of Provincial mountain bike tourism strategy is developed
    • More stakeholders may need to share similar visions
  • During peak season, some of the communities have reached its capacities along Sea to Sky Corridor.
  • Encouraging more stakeholders to support local tourism service if they have extra capacity, especially during peak season transitions.
  • Trail maintenance and funding need to be secured
  • Several municipal governments annual funds need to be secured
  • For trail systems that are outside government municipal boundaries, supports from land owners are needed
  • Develop business ecosystem case that have return on investments[30]

Ecological Impacts


Mountain bike activities on soil structure and compositions, including increase in soil erosion, compaction[31]. Heavy braking and skidding can physically move soil, and amount of users such as hikers and riders can result in compaction of soil[31][32]. Soil moisture content would significantly contribute to trail sustainability, wether it is single purposed or multi- purposed trail system[31]. During the process of trail building, different mixture of soil content and water run off can also be the factors that distrust soil composition[32].


Removal of vegetations was common during the process of trail building and trail maintenance, so that soil could be exposure[31]. Compaction of soil, organic litter loss, and plants diversity loss can could be contributing factors of of ecological impact, along side with spread of invasive species[31].


Human activities can distribute wildlife in ways such as stresses, alternation of habitat , and collision[31]. Trail users should be aware of all type of wildlife that they could possibly encounter, including deers, bears, and even insects[31]. Monitoring system, wildlife corridors should be established, and route that impact wildlife should be avoided to reduce the effects of habitat fragmentation[1].


Trails system may introduce pollutant and sediments to nearby waterbody, while altering water nutrient and aquatic biosphere[31]. Therefore, proper water management should be provided, and avoid building trail adjacent and parallel to water courses and riparian areas[1]. Water drainage system should be provided during the process of trail building[1].


From legalizing mountain bike trails to generating tremendous amount of revenue, these existing tenure and programs in S2S communities demonstrate community based recreational forestry managements is a success. 

However, only minority of reviewed literature has considered First Nations during the planning and decision making process. Inputs from other smaller stakeholder group should be considered to reduce conflicts, outdoor recreations trending rapidly nowaday.

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  2. McRae, Cam (September 5, 2018). "mtb money sea sky economic survey". Archived from the original on October 30, 2018. External link in |website= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Hasenauer, Jim. "A TRAIL OF ONE'S OWN? Separate Trails Divide; Shared Trails Unite". Archived from the original on November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
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  6. CBC News (February 4, 2015). "Tineke Kraal facing 3 charges for allegedly setting mountain bike traps". CBC News. Archived from the original on November 10, 2018.
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  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts Tourism and Resort Development Division Recreation Sites and Trails Branch. "Authoring Recreational Mountain Bike Trails on Provincial Crown Land" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2018. External link in |website= (help)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Woolley, Pieta (Spring 2017). "Sharing the Resource: Loggers and Mountain Bikers Work Together" (PDF). Truck Logger BC. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 25, 2018.
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  20. Colebourn, John (May 14, 2012). "Cypress mountain biking victim identified". north shore news. Archived from the original on November 25, 2018.
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