B.C. conservation officers gear up to patrol recreation campsites, trails this long weekend - InfoNews

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B.C. conservation officers gear up to patrol recreation campsites, trails this long weekend

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
May 15, 2020 - 11:30 AM

B.C. Conservation officers are preparing for the Victoria Day long weekend and will be patrolling recreation sites and trails in the province as more people will be exploring the outdoors.

Sgt. Jeff Hanratty with the B.C. Conservation Service said officers will be patrolling recreation sites and trails which is typical every year. This year, there’s been an increased focus on forest recreation sites as they’re currently closed for camping.

“We do see a huge increase in (outdoor use) over the May long weekend, that’s standard every May long weekend,” he said, adding as more people are outside, more people will likely be visiting parks.

READ MORE: More clouds than sunshine expected in Okanagan this long weekend

“We will see an uptick in enforcement over the long weekend,” he said. “We have been receiving complaints of people camping and using forest recreation sites contrary to the order.”

As of May 14, provincial campgrounds remain closed and most provincial parks, recreation sites and trails are open for day-use only. Access to beaches, trails, most picnic areas and washroom facilities, and boat launches is permitted. However, in keeping with public health guidelines around non-essential travel, people are urged to only visit parks and recreation sites close to their home and avoid travelling to small communities, according to the province.

READ MORE: Stay home this long weekend, B.C.'s health minister asks

Conservation officers will not be patrolling provincial parks, as that jurisdiction falls to B.C. Parks staff unless their assistance is requested, Hanratty said.

Tickets have been issued in the last few weeks for those not following the provincial health orders, and have had to ask people to vacate recreational sites and given them warnings, he said.

Hanratty anticipates officers will be dealing with those who are unlawfully using recreation sites, littering, have open liquor in their vehicles, are impaired in vehicles and small vessels, as well as improper use firearms.

“Typically we’ll see some loaded firearms in a vehicle over the long weekend,” he said.

Recently, officers have also been heavily involved with illegal dumping complaints and one of the key areas has been along Postill Lake Road, Hanratty said.

Last weekend, the Okanagan Forest Task Force, a volunteer group whose mandate is to rid the forest of trash, hauled more than 8,311 pounds of garbage from along Postill Lake Road, and 29,100 pounds of metal.

READ MORE: Okanagan volunteers remove more than 8,300 lbs. of illegally dumped garbage from forest

Illegal dumping can be reported by going to the Regional District of Central Okanagan website here and complaints to the Conservation Officer Service can be made through the service's website here.


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