Abuse of grasslands 'appalling,' club says

Naturalists plan public event, cleanup to increase awareness
March 2, 2016 1:10 P.M.
A bird's eye view of off-road vehicle damage in ecological reserve. (Frank Ritcey)

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

The types that do this have no respect for anyone or anything. It's all about instant gratification. They don't care about species or ecology or anything except themselves. On the other side of the river, you have a possible copper mine going in which will decimate a vast area of grasslands. Sad state of society and priorities.

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Kathryn says:
March 3, 2016 09:03am

This happens up behind me (in Campbell lake area) all the time!! Just a playground for bored, un-informed , spoiled city idiots!! That, and all the shooting of guns for the fun of it!!

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Frank says:
March 3, 2016 04:56am

I hope that people don't think that all dirt bikers are like the very few that are ruining it for everyone else. The vast majority of riders make use of the designated areas and do a lot of good to promote their sport responsibly. The responsible hunters, ATV and 4x4 users are not the issue - it is that small group of people who think the rules are for others that are creating the problem.

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Ken McClelland says:
March 3, 2016 04:17pm

Thank-you for those comments Frank. BC Off-Road Motorcycle Association (BCORMA) is on the record supporting the new ORV Registry. As Past-President of Greater Kamloops Motorcycle Assn (GKMA), current President of BCORMA, and a member of the government ORV Joint Advisory Group, I have had a lot of involvement on this file over the past 13 or so years. GKMA has struck several trail stewardship agreements with the government, and mage the Duffy Lake Rec Site on Greenstone Mountain. GKMA, BCORMA, and all of its province-wide affiliate clubs strongly support responsible ORV use. This includes but is not limited to: Responsible riding on established trails, no riding on or through sensitive habitat, no unauthorized trail construction, and respect for other users. What we need is for more people to join an affiliate club, as the percentage of affiliated riders remains lower than it should/could be. Thanks for your support.

Ken McClelland
President
BCORMA

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Pierre Filisetti says:
March 2, 2016 05:46pm

And we all know which "cause" the abusers support...

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Ken McClelland says:
March 3, 2016 03:34pm

Not sure what you mean by that?

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Walter says:
March 2, 2016 05:28pm

Trust me, every type of motor vehicle have been going out there and through other delicate and sensitive areas

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Paul says:
March 2, 2016 03:48pm

Yeah yeah save the grasslands until someone wants to develop.. Look at batchelor, all that protected grassland now houses..

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Steve says:
March 2, 2016 02:33pm

And it's the dirt bikers that are going to get nailed to the cross for this one too!

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