A local resident is questioning the fairness of closing Crown land in the Koocanusa region to overnight camping, even though campers on private properties are allowed to set up and stay.
Kaila Tily, a Cranbrook resident who has been camping in the Koocanusa area for nearly 30 years, is voicing her frustration with the closure and organizing a protest by the Bailey Bridge on the west side of the lake on Saturday, Aug. 1.
The event is meant as an information-sharing exercise and a way to raise awareness about concerns with the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy, a plan designed to minimize impacts on Crown land in the region.
While created with Crown land in mind, Koocanusa Recreation Strategy doesn’t include or consider impacts from activities on private land, according to Tily.
“We want to be treated the same as they’re treating the people who have private sites and can spend upwards of $2,000 a year to camp,” she said.
She says there are nearly two dozen private camping areas— some of which could include hundreds of potential sites — that may be in use, despite the provincial government’s closure of Crown land camping, issued in April due to COVID-19 transmission concerns.
A section of the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy notes an intent to avoid measures that will result in relocating Koocanusa recreation management issues and conflicts to surrounding areas. With the Koocanusa region’s crown land closed to camping, she says campers are flocking to other areas like the Bull River or Tie Lake.
“It’s really impacting the small lakes that can’t handle the big wakesurf boats and all the camping that’s damaging the grasslands where they normally wouldn’t have campers,” she said. “We’ve been in contact with the Koocanusa Recreational Strategy area and we value the time and management they’re putting in, and they have a plan that they’re working on, but it’s not finalized yet.”
Given that the province is in Phase 3 of it’s reopening plan — which allows for overnight camping and the re-opening of B.C. Parks, Koocanusa should be reopened to camping on Crown land, Tily argued, pointing out a double-standard that allows people to camp on private sites, while keeping Crown land closed.
The protest will be near the public boat launch on the western side of Bailey Bridge. Elk Valley RCMP have been notified as well as the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which will have signage in place to ensure traffic safety.
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