All BC Parks closing
BC Parks is immediately closing all provincial parks in response to the widespread call for increased action to address COVID-19.
The BC Parks closure responds to both the federal and provincial directives that people should stay close to home to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk. This temporary measure means people should not be going to provincial parks until further notice.
“Because physical distancing works, it is critical that we take every action needed to restrict the spread of COVID-19. This applies to British Columbians and out-of-province visitors who were planning to visit or stay at our provincial parks. The message is clear: stay home, avoid travel, do not put yourself or others at risk,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“I understand and share the love people in British Columbia have for the outdoors and the connection between health and proximity to nature. We tried to provide safe space for people to get some exercise and fresh air in our beautiful parks. But it has proven too challenging to maintain safe distance between visitors. This action is difficult but necessary. We look forward to the day we can welcome people back to our wonderful parks.”
The decision to close the park system is informed by continued feedback from RCMP, local government, First Nations, local search-and-rescue organizations and the general public. While many people are observing the physical distancing requirements set by the provincial health officer (PHO), some continue to ignore the order, making enforcement in a wilderness setting challenging.
The timing of this decision is important given the upcoming long weekend and the beginning of the busy season for outdoor recreation and camping. BC Parks is also extending the ban on all camping in provincial parks until May 31, 2020, in alignment with neighbouring jurisdictions and the temporary closure of Canada’s national parks. Refunds for bookings up to May 31 will be sent automatically.
As previously announced, the Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has also closed its campgrounds and amenities in response to the COVID-19 situation.
BC Parks has taken a scaled and phased in approach to limiting park access following PHO requirements and the latest COVID-19 transmission data. BC Parks recognizes the value of nature in contributing to public health and wellness and will expand access to the park system as soon as the PHO indicates it can be done without increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Any change to provincial park access or services will be posted to the BC Parks website.
The B.C. government is restricting camping and motorized recreation (including the use of off-road vehicles) throughout the entire Koocanusa Recreation Strategy area this spring and summer. These restrictions will help prevent environmental damage and ensure orders and guidance from the provincial health officer related to the COVID-19 pandemic are followed.
The restrictions will take effect at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, and will remain in place until further notice.
Although overnight camping will be prohibited in this area, people may still use designated roads and trails on a day-use basis as long as they adhere to physical distancing guidelines and other restrictions that may be in place.
The Koocanusa Recreation Strategy (see link below) contains a map of the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy area.
These restrictions are implemented by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development under Section 58 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, in partnership with the Conservation Officer Service, the RCMP, the Ktunaxa Nation and the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, as well as other local government stakeholders in the region.
There have been growing concerns in recent years about unauthorized mudbogging (i.e., operating or racing off-road vehicles in wet earth or mud) on Crown land around the Koocanusa reservoir — particularly in the Dorr Road and Umbrella Beach areas — and its associated impacts on the land and the environment.
Specific stewardship concerns due to mudbogging and related activities include:
– water and soil contamination;
– damage to forest and rangeland habitat;
– lack of sanitation and garbage facilities;
– public safety;
– impacts on archeological and cultural resources;
– damage to recreational infrastructure; and
– displacement of wildlife.
The Section 58 restrictions are consistent with orders and guidance issued by the provincial health officer under the provincial state of emergency, regarding physical distancing and a prohibition on public gatherings of more than 50 people. In the midst of a global pandemic that has affected hundreds of people throughout this province and neighbouring jurisdictions, British Columbians and visitors from other provinces are urged to follow the advice of public health officials.
The restrictions will be enforced by the Province’s natural resource officers, conservation officers and the RCMP, who will conduct regular patrols and educate the public at access points into the area. People who do not comply with the restrictions may be issued a violation ticket for $115 and told to leave the area.
The restrictions for the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy area align with the decision by Recreation Sites and Trails BC to close its campgrounds and amenities to gatherings and overnight camping in response to COVID-19.
The B.C. government has been working collaboratively with the Ktunaxa Nation, stakeholders and local governments for several years on a Koocanusa Recreation Strategy.
The development of this strategy includes the management of camping and trail use in the area.
Mudbogging is not considered a legitimate activity and is neither supported nor included in the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy.
Read about the Koocanusa Recreation Strategy
See details Recreation Sites and Trails BC
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing
For the provincial health officer’s orders, notices and guidance
For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19 Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week