Tenquille Lake tenting reservation system in impact

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Half of backcountry users hadn’t booked a cabin or tent site this summer: PWA

Mark Robichaud is certainly not trying to draw further attention to the much-used Tenquille Lake Recreation Site. But it has become clear that the Pemberton Wildlife Association (PWA), which is committed to implementing a multi-stakeholder visitor usage management strategy, needs to make this known: They now require reservations for both the Tenquille- hut and tent pitches.

“Our operator [who stayed onsite through the summer] said about half of the people who came didn’t have reservations,” said Robichaud, the Tenquille-Owl Lakes Recreation Area (TOLRA) trail coordinator. “Our role in this is that we are committed to managing the bookings and maintenance and upkeep of the trails. The word is slowly getting around.”

Additionally, the group is trying to spread the word that Birkenhead’s access to the Tenquille area is officially closed – with a gate or barriers to be installed in the near future.

“This is specifically closed to grizzly bear habitat and grizzly bears must be left alone,” Robichaud said. “There is a huge blueberry field there. It’s important to grizzly bears and the Lil’wat Nation. We want to encourage everyone to forget that access exists.”

Other changes now in effect following the implementation of the strategy – the result of several years of work between the provincial forest ministry, the Lil’wat Nation, N’Quatqua and community groups such as the PWA – include: no unauthorized access by helicopter or horse; no motorized recreational vehicles; no dogs on the recreation grounds or on the trails leading to the lake; no mountain biking within the recreation area or on the trails to the lake or the Mount Barbour Trail; and camping only in designated areas.

The strategy also aims to guide future recovery management to protect the nations’ cultural resources and opportunities, habitat for wildlife and sensitive species.

“It’s one of those places that the Lil’wat have used for generations, and he’s documented his presence there with the pictographs and the trails,” Lil’wat boss Dean Nelson told Pique in February. “It’s part of the route our people took through the territory.”

Meanwhile, Robichaud said he understands locals might not like the changes, but given the reality of a crowded hinterland there is little choice but to adapt.

In May 2021, when the Tenquille hut was closed due to COVID-19, a group of people broke in, causing damage and burning building materials that were stored under the hut for bonfires.

“I think the longtime Pemby locals who made a couple of trips there every year and probably had the place to themselves are gone. That’s 2022,” said Robichaud.

“We adapt to the times, and [as] Anyone who spends time in any of the unregistered or unattended cottages in the Duffey understands that it’s a matter of time before they are burned down. There are a number of them that I will no longer go to. They are overused and abused.”

After reviewing the cabin and campsite booking software at the end of June, the PWA officially launched the new reservation system. While it’s been a quiet start this year, going forward people will be turned away if they don’t have a reservation.

“Once the signage is in place and we make a few more public service announcements, I guess we’ll have to do a little more control over that,” added Robichaud. “If it’s overbooked, send people home or have a safer way to ensure payment.”

PWA, meanwhile, will not maintain the road, so inland users should be aware of the difficult access.

In the end, the group hopes the changes will help ensure the area’s longevity.

“I think when the operator is there and the eyes are on the site and the cabin and tent sites are in place… it gives the impression that people are watching and caring,” Robichaud said.

To book a space or for more information, visit pembertonwildlifeassociation.com/services/tenquille-lake-cabin.