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Backwoods cops out in force

Cops will be out in force this weekend patrolling lakes, waterways and recreations spots.

Provincial officials always step up their patrols during the May long weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer, and 2014 will be no different.

Conservation officers will be protecting public safety and enforcing environment, fish and wildlife regulations. Park rangers will be patrolling BC Parks and protecting sensitive ecosystems. And natural resource officers and the RCMP will be patrolling Crown land.

Most provincial parks and recreation sites are open for the May long weekend. Up-to-date information is available on the BC Parks website and the Recreation Sites and Trails BC website.

The following are some tips to keep in mind:

Camping

  • Many campgrounds have specified rules and guidelines. Visitors are asked to comply with the posted rules.
  • Gates in provincial parks and some recreation sites are closed at 11 p.m., unless otherwise stated. Only registered campers are allowed in campsites after 11 p.m. 
  • Excessive noise is not permitted. Please remember that sound can travel far in the open air, especially music and loud talking.
  • Liquor consumption is prohibited in parks, with the exception of your own campsite.
  • Barbecues must be used on the ground unless barbecue attachments are provided on picnic tables.
  • To avoid problems with bears, lock your food in your vehicle at night. Use the garbage containers provided and maintain a clean campsite. Never feed or approach bears.
  • Designated swimming areas within marker buoys are intended to protect swimmers. All watercraft and water-skiers must stay outside the markers. Lifeguards are not on duty in BC Parks or recreation sites.
  • Visitors can use trails to safely travel through the most interesting and beautiful parts of BC Parks and recreation sites, without damaging sensitive plant and wildlife habitats. Please stay on the trails. 

Campfire safety

  • Always check the Wildfire Management Branch website before heading into the backcountry to find out if any open burning prohibitions are in effect.
  • If campfires are allowed in your area, bring a shovel or keep at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.
  • Make sure the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving it unattended for any period of time. Ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished in an ashtray and are not tossed away carelessly.
  • Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter (roughly 1½ feet by 1½ feet).
  • You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. A fireguard is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed. 
  • You may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if your negligence results in a wildfire.
  • Members of the public can report wildfires or unattended campfires by calling *5555 on a cellphone or by calling 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.

Off-road vehicles

  • Respect the environment when riding off-road vehicles and use trails that are designated for motorized use.
  • Most provincial parks are closed to off-road vehicle use unless posted otherwise.
  • Operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are reminded that these vehicles must be insured if they're driven on forest service roads.
  • Keep vehicles out of sensitive sites that are easily damaged, such as wetlands, grasslands, alpine areas and subalpine environments.
  • Failure to comply with regulations could result in a fine of $575 or (in more serious cases involving damage) up to $100,000 and a year in jail.

Fishing

  • Make sure you have a valid angling licence (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015) and are aware of angling regulations for the waters in your area, including gear and bait restrictions.
  • If you are operating a small vessel, ensure that you have your operator's licence with you and be aware of safety regulations for operating small vessels. 
  • Click here for more information on fishing.

Pets must be kept on a leash at all times in provincial parks and some recreation sites. And the The BC Wildlife Federation offers a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone who breaks wildlife laws, vandalizes private property or contravenes other property laws.

You can report suspicious activities and environmental damage to the Conservation Officer Service's toll-free, 24-hour Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 877 952-RAPP (7277), or call *7277 on your cellphone.

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