The management plan for the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site is now being reviewed by Parks Canada.
The public is encouraged to make submissions.
It is interesting to note that according to Parks Canada there are now more winter users (2,000 to 3,000) than there are summer users (2,200 to 2,700) of the site.
Yet winter users pay nothing for the privilege of using the park.
Summer users are subsidizing winter users and, in my view, this is unacceptable. There are many expenses associated with managing both summer and winter use of the park, and those using the site in either season should help to cover those costs.
I am not suggesting that winter users pay the same day use fee as a summer hiker ($9.80). Although winter users (particularly those who use snowmachines) do have the opportunity to see the Chilkoot Trail much as the gold seekers did (in winter), they are not able to use some of the facilities that are available to summer users, nor are they able to view many of the artifacts that are scattered along the route.
However, I do not think a $5 fee would be unreasonable.
As well, paying a fee might help winter users realize they are carrying out their activities in a National Historic Park, that there is value to the park, and that there is a cost associated with its maintenance.
Another concern I have also relates to winter use. At present, there is one nonmotorized weekend scheduled for every three weeks. The two other weekends are scheduled for multi-use, which means snowmachines will be present. “Multi-use” implies that no one is denied access. However, for those who would like to experience the site without the noise, smell and disruption of snowmachines, that is exactly what “multi-use” weekends do.
This year there are 18 opportunities from January to the end of April to experience the site without the presence of snowmachines.
However, there are 32 opportunities for motorized activities. This can hardly be considered an equitable situation.
Weekends (which include Friday) should be alternated between multi-use (motorized) and nonmotorized users.
According to Parks Canada’s Newsletter No. 2, it is going to “respond to the particular needs of day-runners on the trail, recognizing them as a distinct visitor group.” (p.5)
This implies the activity is already taking place. However, the present 2004 Management Plan does not list “running” as an appropriate/allowable activity.
If it is taking place, then, in my opinion, the present management plan is being violated.
This serves to undermine public confidence in such plans.
As far as running the trail is concerned, I believe such an activity would detract from the commemorative integrity of the site.
In addition, there are obvious safety and environmental concerns associated with running on the Chilkoot Trail.
As well, I feel that the activity might serve to belittle those who are attempting to hike the trail as the gold seekers did.