How Does Copper Cayuse Respect And Use The Local Land?


For everyone at Copper Cayuse Outfitters (CCO), our business is just as much about historical, environmental and cultural stewardship as it is about showing our guests a good time on horseback.

The two main hubs of our business are the Copper Cayuse Ranch in Pemberton, and our Base Camp near Birkenhead Lake, just north of Pemberton. Both operations are located within the unceded territory of the Lil´wat Nation, and we take great care in making sure that our business honors the language, culture, history and land of the Lil´wat7ul people.

Adventure tourism in BC is still growing and the backcountry is seeing year-over-year increases in the numbers of recreational visitors. As more people discover the joys of our region’s wild places it becomes even more important to make sure that the land we play within is being cared for, protected and respected by the individuals and businesses who use it.

In this blog post we answer five of the most popular questions we get asked on this topic.

1. Who gives permission for CCO to operate on the crown land & within Lil´wat Nation territory?

All of our horse tours and activities happen thanks to a crown land use tenure that covers 4000 hectares of backcountry. This tenure was granted through a public application process that took just over three years.

Our tenure is monitored and closely regulated by the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNR) and with the knowledge, input and consent of the Lands and Resources Department of the Lil´wat Nation.

2. What exactly does it mean when you say you have a tenure on crown land?

The best analogy is to compare the transaction to that of leasing a retail space from the property owner. It is important to know that every tenure is different as is every lease. For our tenure, we pay rent and appropriate permit & licensing fees in order to use the land to conduct specific commercial horseback tours in the area.

”A crown land tenure is an agreement between an individual or company and the provincial or federal government which provides the individual or company with an interest in the land.” –

3. What were the requirements necessary to grant permission to be granted a crown land tenure?

Requirements for the application included but were not limited to publishing newsprint advertisements of our intentions, maps of our trailheads and invitations for public comments. We were required to submit a management plan, a grizzly bear management plan and to have our camp and trail locations pre-approved by the Ministry and First Nations. 

While every tenure is different, CCO’s responsibilities include but are not limited to the payment of annual fees and licenses, road & trail maintenance requirements at our expense, and responsible water usage regulated by water licensing. 

4. How does CCO decide where to put camps?

The simple answer is, we don’t. We choose our preferred sites but the final decisions about location and what is allowed are made by the BC government and First Nations.  

We also look at trail access in order to choose our camp locations. Most of our trails are pre-existing pack horse, trapper, miner trails that we brush and maintain throughout the summer. Avoidance of areas of cultural importance to the First Nations and environmentally sensitive areas are key to both governments as well as ourselves and our neighbours.

Our operations and activities are monitored closely by government authorities.

5. Are there any benefits of a crown land tenure to area? 

There certainly are. Here are few benefits that are passed down to the public as a result of our activities on the tenured land:

  • There are significant economic benefits for local people and businesses when we bring people to the area to use our services. We provide employment for staff and local contractors. We provide business opportunities for owners of shops, restaurants and accommodation suppliers. We buy locally from bakers, farmers, grocery stores, the hardware store and fuel suppliers. We even buy most of our horses locally.

  • The public does not have to pay for trail maintenance within CCO’s tenured area and may use the trails for leisure and recreation. We are not a faceless corporation. This is our home. We live, work and play here along with our families, friends and neighbours. Taking excellent care of our guests and the area are paramount to our existence and are non-negotiable. 

  • We are “Smokey the Bears” in the woods. As we are out in the backcountry most days during the summer, we often come across unaccompanied tourists having illegal campfires during a fire ban. We ask them to extinguish their fire and take the opportunity to educate them on current conditions and bans. We do not ever violate a campfire ban and we work hard to ensure our guests understand why we must cook their meal on camp stoves if/when they visit during a fire ban. 

  • We have an extensive communication system in an area without cell towers. If Joe Public gets himself into trouble out there, we can probably help.

  • Part of our tenure is home to two extremely rare plants: Gentiana tenella and Boechera paupercula. We were notified of this when we were granted our tenure and we have led two hiking expeditions of naturalists in search of them. We do not want to disturb them with our guests hiking activities and we want to identify their locations to the scientific community. There are only a few photos on file of these plants taken by hikers in the Tenquille Lake area and it is of utmost importance that their locations be identified and protected.  

The trails on our tenure are available for public use and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.  If you would like to read more about CCO’s land use tenures, please click the button below.