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Damage at popular North Okanagan camping area puts province in action

The popular camping area around Grizzly Lake on the Aberdeen Plateau above Vernon could see a designated recreation site established over the next couple years.
Image Credit: Regional District of North Okanagan
September 09, 2015 - 8:30 AM

VERNON - Those who frequent Grizzly Lake on the Aberdeen Plateau above Vernon during the summer camping season might notice some changes over the next couple years.

Recreation Sites and Trails B.C., a branch of the Ministry of Forests, is proposing an approximately 30-unit campground at the north end of Grizzly Lake. Okanagan District recreation officer Ian McLellan says the popular spot has been operating without proper toilets or designated camping areas for years, resulting in a free-for-all which is having undesired impacts on water quality and the environment.

“It’s beginning to get overused,” McLellan says. “It’s not managed whatsoever. We think by putting in a rec site, we’ll have more tools in our toolkit to enforce best practices, (and also) make this a wonderful site people will want to come to." 

The proposal comes after the North Okanagan Regional District expressed concerns about mud bogging and poor sanitary practices impacting the water reservoir.

Currently in the referral process, the proposal involves creating designated camping sites, installing pit toilets, and bringing in picnic tables and fire pits. Fencing in off-limit areas and educational signage would also be included, McLellan says.

Depending on how everything rolls out, McLellan says they are also considering having a host on the premises.

“They would be there to be the eyes and ears and to inform the public as to why we’re moving in this direction,” McLellan says. 

Down the road, there’s also the possibility a camping fee will be imposed at the recreation site.

Consultation with First Nations, ranchers and other stakeholders will happen next, and McLellan hopes most of the work will be completed by the fall of 2016.

There are roughly 300 recreation sites across the Okanagan, and McLellan believes the improvements at Grizzly Lake will improve recreational opportunities for everyone.

“On a May long weekend, basically everything, both provincial sites and rec sites, are bursting at the seams,” he says. “We’re trying to give those people options while also doing less environmental damage.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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