While this May long weekend was tamer than last year’s mayhem, the ecological impact left behind is irreparable, according to RCMP.
In the worst hit area — McLean Creek, west of Bragg Creek — RCMP Const. Ian Smith told Metro the environmental damage is beginning to hit the point of no return.
“This area used to be pristine, but there is nothing pristine about it now,” he said, pointing to the metre-wide crevices left in the dirt. “From above, this just looks like a black hole.”
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The damage was so destructive that hundreds of campers were stuck behind a locked gate trying to get out of the camp area yesterday afternoon.
“Basically, this lock has been cut six times this weekend, and people aren’t supposed to bring their campers and trailers out here, it’s an off-road vehicle area,” Rob Dipalo of Fish and Wildlife explained.
“There was only one way in and out, and because it was damaged so badly, they have to go through this gate,” he said, adding every vehicle was given warning tickets.
Campers like 23-year-old Logan Warner waited more than two hours to get through the gate, where they were reprimanded for entering the area with their vehicles.
“They didn’t have this last year, and the gate was open when I got here. We can’t get out the other way, but it sucks. I wanted to be home by noon,” the disgruntled driver said.
While officials report a record year in number of recreational users in the popular off-roading area, they did record fewer incidents than last year, RCMP Staff Sgt. Patrick Webb said.
“The number of incidents is down from last year. But we want people to know we are here and we’re not going to tolerate illegal behaviour,” Webb said, adding they weren’t trying to ruin law-abiding fun.
The added security didn’t affect most campers and off-roaders though, as many appreciated the extra eyes.
“They were out in full force,” 22-year-old Josh Johnsey said. “But it was welcomed. They were friendly for the most part, and we mostly kept to ourselves.”