March 02, 2016 - 11:27 AM
KAMLOOPS - Off-roading and illegal dumping is a problem which continues to plague sensitive grasslands in the city and an area known as the Dewdrop is the latest target.
“The Dewdrop is a great place for people to go and hike and to see landscape and wildlife found in few other parts of the province,” Julie Schooling, president of the Kamloops Naturalist Club, says. “Unfortunately the Dewdrop is also under increasing pressure from users who are either ignorant of the protected status that the land has or in some case who just don’t care."
Despite adequate signage of a vehicle restriction at the entrance of the grasslands, people continue to create their own unmarked trails in recreational vehicles and dump garbage.
Frank Ritcey, a member of the group and coordinator for WildSafe B.C. says the disruptive human behaviour undoubtedly affects the wildlife in the area and could have lasting effects if not addressed.
“There’s lots of species that utilize the area. I think the most noticeable are the big horned sheep,” he says.
Other affected animals are several types of snakes and spadefoot toads, which can either be squished under ATV tires or struggle to bury themselves in earth compacted by human use.
"There’s all types of values out there that people just ignore and one of the big things is there’s not a lot of grasslands in B.C.,” he says.
Garbage in the grasslands
Image Credit: J Schooling
Ritcey says this isn’t the first time the area has faced illegal off-roaders or dumping, but notes this is the worst he’s seen.
“People would do this before but it wasn’t at the volume it is now. Who drives all the way out to the Dewdrop to drop off a mattress? It boggles the mind,” he says. "This year seems to be far worse than ever before. What I see is that probably in the last three years, is usage of that area has grown exponentially. It’s not all bad. Legitimate users of the grasslands has grown exponentially (as well)."
A bird's eye view of the illegal trails carved by all-terrain vehicles at the Dewdrop Grasslands.
Image Credit: Frank Ritcey
It’s only a small group of people damaging the area and Ritcey encourages regular users to keep an eye out. If you spot someone driving an ATV in restricted areas or illegal dumping, you’re encouraged to contact the Conservation Officers Service RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.
To address the growing concern, the Naturalist Group is actively working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. To clean the area up, members are planning a grasslands awareness day for March 20.
To learn more about the group and its cleanup efforts, visit their Facebook page.
Bullets, condoms and refuse — see what's dumped in our protected grasslands
A map of the illegal trails carved in the Grasslands
Image Credit: contributed
Where you can and cannot go in the Lac Du Bois area of Kamloops
Image Credit: contributed
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016