A senseless act of vandalism at Beavertail Lake has Campbell River Fish and Wildlife volunteers down but certainly not out.
On April 20, the group poured concrete foundations for three picnic tables, three fire pit rings, an approximately 80-foot dock and an outhouse.
Doug Phyall, treasurer of the Fish and Wildlife Club, said volunteers returned one week later, on April 27, to find shoe prints, and a score of vulgar drawings and messages in the fresh concrete. He said the damage would have occurred the same day the cement was poured, after the volunteers – who stuck around for five or six hours to keep an eye on their work – left.
“Disappointment is a good word,” said Phyall, particularly because the cement was donated at a reduced cost by a local business out of the goodness of their heart. “I think the thing that’s frustrating is that they’re local companies, they’re small businesses and we know how hard it is to survive as a small, local business. When things like this happen it’s frustrating because we do appreciate the donations we get.”
It’s also disheartening because the money for the project was fundraised by the Fish and Wildlife Assocation through its annual banquet and by nearly 100 local donors. Proceeds collected by the BC Freshwater Society from fresh water fishing licences were also directed towards the project which aims to open up TimberWest lands to the public.
“I think it’s discouraging for companies like TimberWest to see this happen because they’re trying to work with people like us to give people access to their property,” said Phyall, who added that the RCMP have opened a file on the incident.
Bill Grutzmacher, operations forester for TimberWest, said needless acts of vandalism are always upsetting, particularly when volunteers are involved.
“We are upset by what happened, especially in light of the fundraising and the volunteer efforts that the Campbell River Fish and Wildlife Association has done to make this a recreational site for the benefit of the community,” Grutzmacher said. “Acts of vandalism such as this make no sense and only serve to deflate the enthusiasm and good intentions of the club.”
But Phyall said the group is not deterred.
“We’re not discouraged, it just increases our resolve,” said Phyall, adding he knows families appreciate the group’s efforts at Beavertail and other area lakes to make them more accessible. “Later on in the day, we went back to Echo Lake and people came up and thanked us for what we’re doing. It re-energizes you when people are appreciative of what you’re doing.”
Similar to Beavertail, at Echo Lake, the Fish and Wildlife Association has installed tables, fire rings, outhouses, a new dock and an accessible ramp.
The group also put in a dock at Robert’s Lake about seven years ago.
“We all remember going fishing with our dads or grandfathers and that’s what this is all about,” Phyall said. “Even if you don’t go fishing, you can roast hot dogs or marshmallows.
“TimberWest designated these sites for day use…we’re giving the public access to a stocked lake.”
Echo Lake is west of McIvor Lake along Highway 28 while Beavertail Lake is located along the Elk River Road, west of Strathcona Lodge towards Gold River.
According to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Beavertail is expected to be stocked with 1,500 rainbow trout yearlings this spring while Echo Lake is to be stocked with 1,250 rainbow trout.