The sea stacks at San Josef Bay. (Port Alice Photography, Images by Douglas Bradshaw)

The sea stacks at San Josef Bay. (Port Alice Photography, Images by Douglas Bradshaw)

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

Speculation is swirling around in online chats about whether northern Vancouver Island parks can handle their current “unprecedented rate” of use.

One commenter allegedly heard a Cape Scott camp host say Cape Scott Provincial Park might be closed to the public due to increased use.

It’s not true, however, to the relief of many a hiker, camper and day-tripper. The Ministry of Environment confirmed to Black Press Media that they are monitoring numbers, and so far see no need to close the park.

Visitor numbers have been steadily increasing over the past several years, the ministry said, and the spokesperson estimated that rate of increase is probably higher this year, as people are camping for the first time.

RELATED: B.C. launches free day-use passes for 6 provincial parks amid COVID-19 surge

RELATED: West Coast Trail to remain closed to overnight camping for rest of the year

Therein might lay the problem.

Members of online hiking groups based on Vancouver Island have a serious gripe with the way some campers “leave one iota of human presence.” Discarded garbage, beer cans, toilet paper in the bushes, unburied feces are basic outdoor no-no’s that are being ignored.

Here’s what some members in Facebook groups Hiking Enthusiasts Vancouver Island and Vancouver Island Backcountry Hikers said:

“It’s truly disappointing at how many people suck. It’s not hard. Leave no trace! And if you can’t, stay home, you don’t belong there.” – Ian Ward

“I was there this weekend, beer cans in the forest, people pooping irresponsibly just off the trails. So much garbage.” – Shannon Jensen

“Shame on anyone who treats nature that way. Makes me wonder what their bathroom looks like at home.” – Kathleen Sharpe

Some posters are demanding action from BC Parks.

“This needs to change! The entire park will be overrun and ruined with bio-waste, garbage and fire pits by the end of the year with the amount of people going into the backcountry. Hire more Park Rangers, fine campers, permits… something needs to be done now.” – Amber Joy

Others want the parks closed altogether.

“Hate to say it, but I hope lots of the island trails are closed down for the remainder of the summer. I know people are getting into hiking for health and social distancing reasons, but these environment are sensitive and cant handle this level human interaction. I want everyone to experience the beauty of the Island, but not at this unprecedented rate.” – Rachel Costall

Some commenters suggested withholding information so newcomers would have a harder time finding these pristine locations.

“I have become reluctant to share photos and information about my hikes just for this very reason. Along with leave no trace, there is sort of an unwritten set of guidelines that true hiking enthusiasts follow. It is so easy to do it. If you can’t respect our beautiful accessible wilderness, please refrain from going there and let those that love and respect it, do what they do best….love and respect it.” – Gary Anderson

Overall, the groups tend to be quick to answer questions from other members — recommendations for accessible hikes, information about directions, debates about gear and lots of well wishes and picture sharing. Several people shared plans to bring extra garbage bags and pack out what others leave behind.

For the benefit of those new to hiking and camping this coronavirus season, BC Parks has a list of seven ‘leave no trace’ principles to follow when recreating outdoors:

Plan ahead and preapare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of others.

Improper waste disposal is the most visible offence. Outdoor enthusiasts ascribe to a “pack in, pack out” motto, which includes the obvious wrappers and cans, but also compostable food. Even thought it breaks down, it’s not a natural part of the ecosystem and can attract wildlife. This also includes toilet paper where there isn’t an outhouse. BC Parks recommends packing out in plastic bags. It should not be burned, buried or left in the bushes. For more details on outdoor ethics, visit http://bcparks.ca/explore/notrace.html.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC ParksConservation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receives her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
COVID-19 vaccinations get underway in Smithers

First doses are being administered to long-term care residents and priority health care staff

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Fentanyl was among the drugs seized by New Hazelton RCMP in a big bust in early January. (File photo)
New Hazelton RCMP arrest five, seize drugs and large amount of cash

Police find suspected heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth during early January drug bust

Smithers Local Health area reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 for the second week of January. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 32 in Smithers LHA Jan. 10 – 16

Northern Health reports 35 new cases for 501 active, 44 hospitalized, 17 in critical care Wednesday

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read