kenstorie.ca/ writing

The Environment / Letters to Politicians #11

To:

Parks Department
 
Minister of Conservation
 
In the fall of 2003 we wrote to express our concerns about environmentally inappropriate practices witnessed in our Provincial Parks and about certain management issues, specifically at Hnausa Provincial Park. As I said then, we believe that governments and their agencies should set a standard for environmentally sound practices, and that Provincial Parks and other nature-oriented departments have a special obligation in this regard.
 
We recently had a short holiday at Hnausa Provincial Park. It’s been a favorite for years but we continue to be disturbed by some trends.
 
The staff that we encountered were friendly and pleasant, and in most ways were doing a fine job but we were disturbed by the blatant disregard for posted rules, and by the continued use of the campground as a neighbourhood meeting place.
 
At this point I will insert a paragraph from our letter of eight years ago, because little has changed.
 
The two of us pull into Hnausa with our small vehicle and pay the modest $10 fee, and set up our small tent. We use a small amount of wood, produce a small amount of garbage, and make every effort to not be intrusive in any way.   Most of the other sites contain large camper trailers or motor homes, some have as many as three vehicles, many sites have a tent as well.  Many have brought in a whole variety of furniture, barbecues, etc.  One had a gas-powered generator. This isn’t camping, these are low-rent summer homes.  A common practice seems to be for someone to set up camp and then have a few friends over for the evenings. Vehicle traffic is constant - even past the 11 o’clock deadline.  I must point out that these were family gatherings - not the wild party crowd - and we’re not complaining about their behavior in that sense. The point is; these users pay the same fee as us, but in terms of environmental impact and in terms of use of resources - we’re much more profitable as clients.
 
Back to the present.
 
The pamplet we were given tell us the Hnausa is the perfect place for a restfull relaxing holiday. But this is what we found:
 
Vehicle Traffic
 
Why is there so much vehicle traffic in the campground? As we noticed some years ago, the campground is being used as an economical family-gathering / party place. We witnessed this several times. Set up camp. Invite friends over. Because many of the people doing this are local, they’re not far from home - so there’s a lot of back-and-forth. In addition to cars, we get jet-skis and boats being launched from campsites.  So, for ten bucks, they get a boat launch, meeting place, parking lot, free firewood, beach and no hassles. For my ten bucks I get a place to park my (1) tent and park my (1) small car and a whole world of unwanted entertainment. Jet-skis buzzing endlessly along the lakefront, cars whizzing by, bad music on bad car speakers. Peace and quiet! Nature! Forget it.
 
This could almost all be prevented if there was even an attempt to enforce existing rules. Why is the gate not closed at 11? I know that it wouldn’t be feasible to keep staff there throughout the evening, but someone could drop by.
 
 
Visitors after 11.
 
Almost a excessive noise could be prevented if the rule about visitors was enforced. No one even tries.
 
Use of Campsites for Other Purposes
 
When we stopped to select a campsite we were told that one available site was currently being used by picniker, but they could be asked to move. We witnessed several cases of people using campsites for picnics and for fishing and for docking their boats. Anyone unfamiliar with the Campground would assume that the site was taken and move on. This is completely unfair.
 
Etc.
 
We saw dogs on the beach (in the middle of the day when an attendand was on duty)
 
Beyond the rules there are other issues. Why are those of us that want to enjoy this beautiful lakeside location in peace and quiet, and with respect for the environment, not given any consideration under the current Parks Management? On one trip we no sooner have our tent set up, when the neighbours across the way are regaling us with a car stereo which played internittently until about 1 AM. The neighbours on the other side had a dog that barked, and liked to start their vehicle seemingly to re-charge something, at odd hours. On another trip a group partied literally all night. Now these people were just having fun in their way. They were nice people, they certainly meant me no harm. But their idea of camping wasn’t the same as ours. Now I know I can pack up and head father into the wilderness and find peace and quiet, by why should I have to, why not provide camping that actually do provide the peace and quiet that the pamphlet promises?
 
We need to recognize the difference between people who come to campground to enjoy nature and people who come to visit and party. Both  can be accommodated - but it’s two different things. We’ve asked before about the possibility of more tent-only vehicle-free quiet zones.
 
In summary: We are citizens concerned with the environment, interested in quiet non-intrusive getaways, and we believe that Parks Management should be working towards providing more opportunities of that nature.
 
We would be happy to answer any follow-up questions you might have.  We know criticism is easy and developing solutions is much more difficult. Are there things such as citizen boards, focus groups, or data-gathering task forces that can provide input into Park policies? I would be willing to volunteer some time - especially at research tasks.
 
 
Thanks for your attention.
 
 
Ken and Bev Storie