Miscreant campers should be held accountable

Enforcement needed for campers who trash campgrounds and kill animals in the process.

Always leave a campground cleaner than you found it.

This is more than an obligation – it’s kind of a Golden Rule of camping. A similar rule, “carry out what you carry in,” is practised by hikers and other back-country enthusiasts.

These moral/ethical guidelines are intended encourage people to leave no footprint, if  possible, when enjoying the outdoors, and to be respectful of others as well as the environment – all of the native flora and fauna. (Mosquitoes, I think, are a grey area.)

Of course, there are always people who think only of themselves, no matter the consequences. A number of them, said to be from Alberta, made headlines in that province as well as ours for trashing Crown land near Fernie during the May long weekend. It wasn’t just a few paper plates left behind at a free camping area near Lake Koocanusa but full garbage bags, booze containers, large boxes and other waste, scattered about and/or gathered in piles. In addition to the garbage, trees were cut down and fires were left burning – another cardinal rule of camping broken!

“Sadly, it’s a poor reflection on our neighbours to the East,” commented Regional District of East Kootenay director Heath Slee. East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett called the incident disheartening, but does not want to see the free camping area turned into a paid option, punishing the majority who are respectful.

About a half dozen of those respectful Albertans helped clean up the mess.

Slee noted it’s Alberta’s strict rules and steep fines protecting its parks and Crown land that drove the miscreant Wild Rose revellers into his electoral area.

Over the same weekend, campers at Harrison Lake, near Harrison Hot Springs, left the site looking like a landfill, with truckloads of garbage left on the grounds.

Meanwhile, authorities in B.C. have their crosshairs on about 40 campers who vandalized a park near Peachland and, in the process, shot and attempted to skin a beaver. They also killed some native songbirds. Again, garbage was left behind.

In this case, the Conservation office is looking at pressing charges, but authorities should be targeting the parties responsible in all of these incidents.

Our premier made a big show of going after rioters following the Vancouver Canuck’s failed Stanley Cup run in 2011. The mentality here isn’t any different.

For those who feel the rules do not apply to them, we have laws.