Natural resource officers and DFO officers enforce the backcountry closure on Quesnel Lake last week.

Banning common sense

It’s nice to see a loosening of some of the tight restrictions placed on residents this month.

While our area, and that of most forested communities in B.C., are still vulnerable to fires, it is nice to see a loosening of some of the tight restrictions placed on residents this month.

The city announced yesterday that effective noon Tuesday, Aug. 22, all parks and trails within the city limits will be reopened to the general public. The removal of the restriction includes Scout Island, but not the tinder-dry Williams Lake River Valley just yet.

Smoking in the reopened areas is, obviously, prohibited as is the use of any motorcycles or ATV’s.

For the most part, the citizens of Williams Lake and area have remained vigilant about watching for wildfires and violators this summer. No one wants another Fort Mac. The city has taken a conservative, but common sense approach to living in and working around the threat of wildfires we have experienced this summer.

The broad backcountry closure issued by the BC Wildfire Service, on the other hand, seems to be a bit much.

Effective at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 11 all Crown land within the Cariboo Fire Centre was closed to public access from Loon Lake (near Clinton) in the south to the Cottonwood River (near Quesnel) in the north and from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the west to Wells Gray Provincial Park in the east. The closure is expected to last until after the long weekend.

That means officers are out patrolling, issuing warnings and in some cases kicking people out of the “backcountry” otherwise known as our backyards. Although that might sound effective if you are thinking of backpackers lighting campfires in forests and on mountain tops, but what about families taking a walk or trying to go for a swim with their children before they head back to school? Surely swimming won’t start a fire?

Several officers were out on Quesnel Lake last week ensuring the closure was followed, even though it had rained several inches and night time temperatures were in the single digits.

Seems like those resources might be better spent fighting the actual fires than policing beach goers out for a walk.

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