Abuse of grasslands in the Dewdrop ecological reserve has grown exponentially and demands a concerted effort to protect fragile habitat, say local naturalists.
Kamloops Naturalist Club is making it a mission to help raise awareness of the plight of the grasslands to the west of the city in the Dewdrop mountain range above Kamloops Lake.
Frank Ritcey, club vice-president, said vehicles are going into areas where they’re prohibited and people are dumping garbage in greater numbers.
“I don’t know if just one straw that’s broke the camel’s back, but I’ve noticed there’s been a real escalation in activity at these points in the last three years,” Ritcey said. “It’s grown exponentially.”
While the problems aren’t confined to the Dewdrop, people don’t seem to be aware that the ecological reserve is home to a diverse array of plantlife, reptiles and mammals, he said. More people are using the area for recreation.
“This year, a bunch of incidents made me realize, hey, we need to get on this right now. It was just appalling amount of garbage.”
The club is holding a grasslands awareness day and major cleanup of the are on Sunday, March 20, hoping to engage the general public in an ongoing effort.
“The Dewdrop is a great place for people to go and hike and to see landscape and wildlife found in few other parts of the province,” said Julie Schooling,president. “Unfortunately, the Dewdrop is also under increasing pressure from users who are either ignorant of the protected status that the land has or, in some cases, who just don’t care.”
There is a vehicle restriction in effect in the area and it is well posted at the entrance to the Dewdrop and at other key points along the roadway, Schooling noted.
“We are working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and other user groups to try to address the problems of people going off-road and the illegal dumping which is rampant in the area.”
Three years ago, 1,478 hectares were added to the existing Dewdrop-Rosseau Creek Wildlife Management Area, increasing its overall size by over a third, to 5,616 hectares. The additions fill in the gap of territory between the existing Wildlife Management Area and the western border of Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation originally helped to purchase one of the sites added to the wildlife management area. Signs are posted in the area advising of vehicle restrictions but they are ignored.
Ritcey has tried to tell some off-road drivers that they’re breaking the law.
“Basically, they tell me to hit the road because I don’t have a badge.”
He recommends that anyone witnessing such abuse contact the Ministry of Environment and report the incident. If possible, they should take photos and include licence plate numbers so that conservation officers can follow up. In the long term, only public vigilance, social pressure and greater awareness will ensure the area is protected.
There are six different species of snakes that inhabit the Dewdrop.
“It’s really unique to have that variety of snakes in one area.”
He’s produced a short film, Grasslands Season, which will be screened as part of the Kamloops Short Film Festival on Sunday, March 6, starting at noon at the downtown Paramount Theatre.
Further details about the club’s March 20 event will be posted on the club’s Facebook Page where great information about natural events in the area can also be found: www.facebook.com/kamloopsnaturalistclub
Jean Humphreys says:
March 3, 2016 04:42pm
March 3, 2016 09:03am
March 3, 2016 04:56am
Ken McClelland says:
March 3, 2016 04:17pm