Jamie Iwaschuk rides his snowmobile in Blue River. (Zac Oh photo)

Jamie Iwaschuk rides his snowmobile in Blue River. (Zac Oh photo)

Ski-Doo funds Blue River Powder Packer Society caribou watch

The local organization received $5,000 from Ski-Doo P.A.S.S.

The Blue River Powder Packer Society has received some financial help this year for its Caribou Recovery Project.

The local organization received $5,000 from Ski-Doo P.A.S.S. (Protection, Access, Sustain, Support) program, as well as an additional $1,900 from the North Thompson Community Foundations Grant.

Andy Doughton, the society’s general manager, said he was grateful for the funding from the Ski-Doo P.A.S.S. initiative, which funds snowmobile clubs to preserve snowmobile networks in North America. P.A.S.S. funded 111 projects across North America, doling out $580,000.

“It is an expensive program for us and as a non-profit, we’re trying to do what we can to save money so we can fund our operations,” Doughton said. “We’re always elated to get a grant that helps ensure we can keep these types of programs going.”

The Blue River club monitors the local caribou herd because two of their zones – Groundhog East and Groundhog West – lie within caribou enclosure zones. To avoid disrupting the herd, Doughton said every Wednesday they send out local rider Jamie Iwaschuk to check the two zones for any evidence of activity.

If caribou are found within the area, Doughton said they will shut that zone down for at least a week and inform riders via social media. So far, he said the program has been successful in reducing snowmobilers’ interactions with the herd.

There are about two weeks left in this year’s snowmobile season in Blue River, depending on the weather. Doughton said ridership this year was slightly down mostly due to the lack of accommodations in town. The ongoing work on the Trans Mountain pipeline in the area meant many of the places snowmobilers would stay are occupied.

“In general our riders numbers were a little bit down this season but that’s pretty similar to the other clubs in the valley here. Operationally, everything went great.”

The P.A.S.S. initiative encourages a variety of projects, including trail restoration or additions, repairs to various infrastructure, and the construction of safe warm-up areas.

Snowmobiling has grown in popularity over the past two years and many newcomers have become passionate about the sport, which provides a great way to escape while staying close to home.



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