Northwestern B.C. officials out to stop campsite vandalism

One location near Terrace, B.C. will be closed off altogether on the May long weekend

THOSE PLANNING to go camping anytime between May 16-24 will be out of luck if they’re hoping to make use of the popular Exstew recreation site.

Recreation Sites and Trails BC and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has ordered the closure of the Exstew campground located off of Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert, as well as its access road, for that period in large part to protect the area from vandalism and to reduce waste caused by people partying over the May long weekend.

“The May long is known as the kind of kick-off for the summer events and the grad weekend as well,” said Const. Angela Rabut of the Terrace RCMP.

“It’s a very busy weekend for us here in Terrace.”

According to Rabut, the campsite vandals have historically been older teenagers and young adults.

“Lots of intoxication. With intoxication comes poor decision making,” she said.

Rabut said she believes the Exstew campsite is specifically closed down because of its ease of access and proximity to the community.

“The site has seven units for camping,” said forestry ministry public relations official Greig Bethel. “But it is located along an open gravel beach that can accommodate large numbers of campers.”

These large numbers of campers, Bethel said, can cause infrastructure and environmental damage to the site.

He also noted in the past that “excessive amounts of garbage have been left behind.”

Bethel also added that the site has been closed annually over the May long weekend since 1996.

“With the exception of one year, which was a trial to see if problems were alleviated,” Bethel said.

Rabut said that past instances of vandalism and destruction at the Exstew recreation site and other campgrounds in the area have included picnic tables being set on fire and large messes of disregarded beer bottles and other broken glass being left behind.

“We even had a camper get burnt up here one summer, that was in [Red Sand Lake], I think,” Rabut said.

The road to the Exstew recreation site and access road will be physically closed approximately half a kilometre north of Highway 16, along the Exstew Road.

According to the legal notice putting the closure into place, it was made to “protect recreation and environmental resources, and to reduce random camping impact and vandalism.”

Rabut also said the Terrace RCMP would be out in full force on the May long weekend.

“We will have roadblocks set up at various key locations and be checking for impaired driving and seizing alcohol when we feel it’s going to be consumed in an illegal manner,” Rabut said.

All other facilities, campgrounds and recreation sites in the district will remain open for the May long weekend.