Natural resource officers out in force

Conduct patrols of 26 campsites west of Campbell River

ATV operators, illegal camping and some forest act violations prompted natural resource officers to issue warnings and tickets over the long weekend near Campbell River.

Natural resource officers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations joined forces with Ministry of Environment conservation officers and the RCMP to patrol recreation sites in the Campbell River area over the weekend.

“Most people were friendly and happy to see us,” said Mark Ross, a Natural Resource Officer with the Campbell River field unit at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. “We got many thanks-yous from people.”

The May long weekend is the unofficial start of the summer camping season and forestry recreation campsites around Campbell Lake are popular with families.

The officers wanted to ensure that all visitors enjoyed a safe and peaceful Victoria Day holiday.

Officers conducted patrols of 26 campsites west of Campbell River and spoke with about 180 people over the course of the weekend.  The vast majority of campers were co-operative and complying with safety regulations.

However, natural resource officers issued 10 warnings to drivers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes for not having the required insurance.

“That was when our officers were doing roving patrols at the recreation sites,” Ross said.

They issued another five warnings for various violations of the Forest and Range Practices Act. Those involved firewood cutting and noise curfew violations. Conservation officers and the RCMP also dealt with several ATV and boating safety concerns and violations of the Wildlife Act.

While the joint patrols were underway at forest recreation sites, another group of natural resource officers was stationed on the south side of John Hart Lake.

In 2001, the provincial government worked with the City of Campbell River to prohibit camping and motorized vehicle use in a large portion of the John Hart Lake Community Watershed.

Over the years, a great deal of effort has gone into protecting the quality of the city’s water supply. However, some campers, ATV operators and motorcyclists continue to ignore the restrictions.

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, officers stepped up enforcement in the watershed to curb this trend and help protect the community’s drinking water supply.

Officers stationed at John Hart Lake turned around 11 ATVs and dirt bikes and issued eight violation tickets and six warning tickets.

They are currently investigating another eight offences related to the Forest and Range Practices Act.

Ignoring camping or motorized vehicle restrictions can result in a fine of $115.

Anyone causing environmental damage can be fined $575.