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Parks Guide

IntroductionForest Service campgroundsWilliams Lake River TrailMountain BikingCampsite Regulations

Marine EthicsWater HealthWetlandsWildlifeCampfiresReservesEthicsProtected Areas

2014 Parks Guide
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Unit 102
197 2nd Ave North
Williams Lake, B.C.
V2G 1Z5

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    2010 Parks GuideWithin the Cariboo and Chilcotin plateau are spectacular glacier-clad mountain peaks, sparkling lakes (including the deepest fjord lake in the world), rolling grasslands and majestic forests. Whether you are travelling by foot, canoe, horseback, or simply wish to enjoy a day at the beach with your family, you can find it in the parks of our region!

    If canoeing is your passion, Bowron Lake Park offers a wilderness experience, or try Ten Mile Lake, Green Lake, Lac La Hache or Horsefly Lake for a family vacation complete with beach and facilities for all ages. You may try visiting the Scout Island Nature Centre on Williams Lake, complete with trail system, or the Williams Lake River Valley trails for a hike or bike trip all the way to the Fraser River. For a wilderness adventure - visit Ts'yl-os Park or South Tweedsmuir Park, where scenery includes the Chilcotin and Coast Ranges and wildlife viewing is world class!

    Why have parks? They are unsurpassable places for outdoor recreation BUT, the most important reason to have parks is CONSERVATION. We need to ensure habitat and wildlife are protected. How we travel through our environment plays a significant role in its preservation. For this reason you will find articles on ecological integrity, cougars and bears, grassland fragility, wetlands, spawning salmon, wildlife viewing and backcountry ethics.

    The guidelines and information are presented here to help all of us play our part in protecting the environment. Help us spread the word, so the Parks will be here not only for our children, but also our children's children.

    See also Ecological Integrity

    Forest Recreation Sites

    Chimney Lake Forestry Service Recreation Site
    Chimney Lake Recreation Site, photo Michael Atwood

    Wherever you are in BC, you will be close to more than 1,200 forest recreation sites located around British Columbia for the camping enjoyment of residents and visitors to the province. There are three types of recreation sites: managed with fees, managed without fees, and user maintained. On January 1, 2006 the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts took over responsibility for Forest recreation sites and trails. The Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts also offers an extensive network of trails for those wishing to experience B.C.'s natural beauty. For more information on BC Recreation Sites visit the Ministry's web site.

    Williams Lake River Valley TrailWilliams Lake River Valley Trail

    Extending from Williams Lake to the mighty Fraser River, the River Valley Trail meanders with the river for 12 km, through forest and grassland beneath the magnificent cliffs and vistas of the valley walls. Visitors can hike, cycle, or horseback ride this dynamic trail, either in part or along its entire length. Toilets and benches are located at various points along the trail and interpretive signs provide visitors with information on the natural and cultural history of the River Valley. The area is traditional territory of the Williams Lake Indian Band, and the mouth of the creek at the Fraser River is federal Indian Reserve land.

    photo Brian Carruthers

    Access to the trail can be gained at the main trail head located on Mackenzie Avenue across from Comer Street or by following Frizzi Road past the landfill site. The latter route can be extremely slippery when wet and is not recommended for recreational vehicles. A colour brochure for the River Valley Trail is available at City Hall, Cariboo Memorial Complex and at the Visitor Information Centre and is also available on the City of Williams Lake web site.

    Mountain Biking

    Legendary mountain biking in Williams Lake. Here tons of trails offer something for every rider. Long seasons and lots of variety surround "the puddle". Williams Lake Cycling Club hosts many events and weekly rides. There is a shuttle and guiding service available also.

    Campsite Regulations

    BC Parks is dedicated to preserving the natural state of parks while also providing recreational access. Park regulations and policies protect park values, ensuring a quality experience for all visitors, both today and in years to come.

    Please obey the following camping ethics and regulations:

    • Pets must be on a leash while in the park and are not permitted in the day-use area or on the beach.
    • Campfires are allowed in designated fire rings and may not be permitted in all parks.
    • Parking is permitted only in designated areas and on the gravel portion of campsites. Parking is not permitted on roadsides.
    • Vehicles used in parks must be licensed and operated by licensed drivers.
    • Tents and equipment must remain on the gravel portion of your campsite.
    • Swimming areas protect swimmers within marker buoys. All watercraft and water-skiers must stay outside markers. Lifeguards are not in attendance.
    • Visitors must leave by 11:00 p.m. Only registered campers are allowed in the campsite after 11:00 p.m.
    • Excessive noise is not permitted. Please remember that sound travels further in open air, especially generators, music and loud talking. Quiet time is from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
    • Liquor consumption is prohibited anywhere in the park with the exception of your campsite.
    • Barbecues must be used on the ground unless barbecue attachments are provided on picnic tables.
    • Bears: To avoid problems with nuisance animals such as bears, lock your food in your vehicle at night. Be sure to use the garbage containers provided and maintain a clean campsite. Never feed or approach bears.
    • Trees and shrubs are easily damaged; do not use them for wiener sticks. Leave flowers and others plants to grow.
    • Trails are planned to take you safely through the most interesting and beautiful parts of our parks without damaging sensitive and unique plant and wildlife habitats. Stay on the trails.
    • Bicycles may only be used on park roads and on designated trails. Consult the park facility operator, park brochure or information shelters for information about nearby cycling opportunities.

    Take your photos and memories home with you - but please leave the park with no trace of your visit, so that others may also enjoy our protected areas.

    Marine Ethics

    Trash is the most visible pollution in our ocean. There is an amazing range of litter on our shorelines - plastics, discarded nets, styrofoam, cans, garbage bags, bottles, oils, detergents, sewage and other potentially harmful products carelessly discharged into the water. Fish, sea birds, shellfish and other forms of aquatic life require a balance of nutrients, oxygen and clean water to survive. Here are some suggestions for preventing the kind of pollution that often ends up in the water:
    • Don't dump garbage or discharge pollutants in our waters.
    • Dispose of trash in port or take it home.
    • Don't pump your sewage overboard in anchorages, marinas or swimming areas.
    • Use bilge cloths or pillows to collect engine oil, fuel, transmission fluid and other pollutants.
    • Never fill portable fuel tanks on board.
    • Consider not using anti-fouling paints.
    • Don't burn driftwood from salt water as this produces toxic air emissions.
    • Do not go onto bird rookeries.
    • Observe seals, otters, whales and sea lions from a distance.
    • Kayakers please use toilet facilities where available. In undeveloped areas, plan to pack out your waste. Practise no-trace camping.

    Big Bar Lake Provincial Park, photo Roland StankeHelp Keep Our Waters Healthy

    The streams, rivers, ponds and lakes of the Cariboo Chilcotin will only remain healthy if we are careful. Our rainbow trout populations could drastically decline if Whirling Disease is introduced. Whirling Disease affects all species of trout, salmon and whitefish. Rainbow trout are the least resistant to the disease. Be sure to rinse, scrub and dry fishing equipment and gear before leaving an area. Drain all water from equipment and your bilge before leaving. Also, don't release aquarium species into our waters. The painted turtle is on BC's "species at risk" list, and could be threatened by alien breeds like the red-eared slider, a common pet store breed, and the diseases they may carry into our waters. Aquatic alien species can spread disease or eat the food our native species depend on.

    Wetlands - Wonders Worth Saving

    Wetlands truly are wonders. Covering only 6% of the Earth's surface, wetlands provide solutions for many of today's global environmental issues, such as water quality, air pollution, global warming, and degraded wildlife habitat and soil erosion.

    Wetlands are areas that remain wet for all or part of the year. Marshes, bogs, swamps, fens and shorelines are the most common types. Wetlands are often called the kidneys of the earth. They filter out suspended sediments that have been picked up through erosion, convert excess nutrients and fertilizers into lush vegetation, and release clean water to downstream users. Wetlands act as giant sponges, soaking up the excess water of spring runoff, and releasing it gradually into streams and underground aquifers. These functions are vital to the health and sustainability of waterfowl, wildlife populations, fish stocks, amphibians, agricultural industries and people.

    There is an estimated 514,000 hectares of wetlands within the Cariboo-Chilcotin biome. Ducks Unlimited Canada is working to conserve, restore and manage these wetlands and associated habitats. In 1970, Ducks Unlimited Canada completed its first project in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and the conservation program has since grown to more than 80 projects consisting of 257 basins, including 6,700 hectares of wetlands and 2,100 hectares of associated upland habitat.

    Working with partners such as BC Parks, Ducks Unlimited Canada is helping to foster appreciation and support for our province's wetland environments. Parks such as Big Bear Lake, Moose Valley and Bowron Lake provide great opportunities to visit natural wetlands - BC's wonders worth saving!

    Wildlife Viewing

    Short-eared owl © Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation SocietyCatching a glimpse of wild animals in their natural habitat is a real thrill for many people. But remember, you are a visitor in the animal's home - please respect the needs of wild animals for space, and their natural food and shelter. To avoid stressing wildlife, please:
    • View or photograph from a distance, use binoculars and telephoto lenses.
    • Avoid noises or actions that might cause animals to flee, wasting unnecessary energy.
    • Respect den sites and nesting areas. Nesting birds are very sensitive to disturbances, birds who moult (lose their flight feathers) after nesting, must grow new feathers before they can fly again. Roosting and hibernating bats are very sensitive to being disturbed.
    • Wild animals may be dangerous if they feel threatened or have young. If you find a wild young animal leave it, the mother is near by.
    • Feeding wildlife is illegal and unsafe. Feeding often leads to unnatural food dependency, habituation to humans, disease or even death.
    • Keep pets under control, they may chase or injure wildlife.
    • Avoid trampling or damaging vegetation - it's part of the wildlife's ecosystem.

    RESPECT private property and other viewer's need for space. Keep the area clean! Take your garbage out with you.

    REPORT any abuse of the environment and its wildlife to the nearest conservation officer.

    Ensuring that species habitat needs take precedence over human use helps protect threatened, endangered and vulnerable wildlife. Many groups and organizations contribute to conservation projects and public awareness in our region. Be sure you are doing your part to preserve healthy, functioning ecosystems.

    In the Cariboo Chilcotin region there are several designated Wildlife Viewing Sites. To mention a few: 100 Mile Marsh, the Chilcotin Grasslands, Riedmann Wildlife Sanctuary on Alkali Lake, and the Beaver Pond trail at 10 Mile Lake Provincial Park.

    Mountain Caribou

    Grizzly BearBear and Cougar

    Bears and cougars are wild animals and as such are unpredictable to a very large extent. Normally they are wary of people but they can become habituated and food conditioned in a very short period. Even though there are numerous bear-human encounters each year, in parks, protected areas, on crown land as well as private lands, the number of encounters that result in contact and or injury or death are very small. Sightings or human contact with cougars are very rare, but do occur. Once bears are fed, they quickly learn to associate food with people and become increasingly aggressive towards humans in their search for food. It is almost impossible to reverse these habits.

    There are many things that you can do on the trail to prevent bear or cougar encounters:
    • Make enough noise so as not to surprise a wild animal at close quarters
    • Be aware of tracks, droppings, digging, torn stumps or carcasses
    • Avoid thick brush and stay in the open
    • Avoid concentrations of natural food stuff, i.e. berries when ripe
    • Keep your dog under control, on a leash, or leave at home.
    • Avoid walking in twilight hours or dark as bears and cougars are more active during twilight and dark
    • Always keep children close and in sight
    • If you encounter a bear or cougar - DO NOT RUN or CRY OUT, stay calm, retreat slowly, talk softly and avoid eye contact.

    When selecting a camp site:
    • Choose an open site off a trail, not along a running creek, a ridge or near a berry patch
    • Do not sleep in the open (without a tent)
    • Store food and garbage at least 100-200 meters from the sleeping area in bear-proof containers or suspend between two trees.
    • Keep your camp clean, burn all combustibles, pack out your garbage
    • Never cook or store food, utensils, toilet articles or cosmetics in your tent or tent trailer
    • Eliminate or reduce food odours. Avoid cooking greasy foods and foods with strong smells. Freeze dried foods are relatively odour free. Keep yourself and gear free of food smells

    Additional information and precautions:
    • Never approach a young bear or cougar, females will defend their young very vigorously.
    • Bears will often stand on their hind legs to better identify you and may move closer to identify what they are smelling or have seen. If a bear comes at you with its head high it will most likely not charge. However if it moves towards you in the low crouch position it will likely attack. Bears will likely make a series of woofs and pop their teeth as a warning that they do not want you around.
    • Rather than risking an encounter, it is better to back track or re-route.

    The Cost of Campfires

    The warmth of a crackling campfire is cherished by almost every camper visiting BC Parks each year. To many, it is a favourite and important social aspect of camping. But campfires come with a cost that goes far beyond money. BC Parks is committed to the conservation of natural resources, and is working towards decreasing the amount of wood being burned in campgrounds. In an average year, 22,000 cords of firewood are burned at our 11,000 campsites. It takes 235ha of forest carried on the equivalent of 2000 logging trucks to bring this wood to the parks. Firewood conservation is important for other reasons besides saving trees. Smoke from campfires reduces air quality and affects the enjoyment of camping for many visitors. During certain weather patterns, smoke is trapped in a thick haze over campgrounds, and this can seriously affect people's health. Every year, forest fires are started by careless campers. Build your fire in the metal fireplace provided, and never leave a fire unattended.

    Keep campfires to a height of 50 cm (20 inches) or less. Unless required for cooking, campfires on hot days are discouraged. We recommend using a camp stove for cooking, as it is easier on the environment and far less likely to burn your food! Campfires are an experience many people enjoy. By taking a few simple measures, the cost of burning wood is reduced, and this benefits you and the environment.

    Noxious Weeds in the Grasslands of the Cariboo Chilcotin

    In your travels through this region you will have the opportunity to visit the grasslands, many of which serve not only as home for wildlife, but also as range for the Cariboo/Chilcotin cattle. It is important to keep these grasslands healthy and free of "noxious weeds" - non-native plants that are difficult to control. As a recreationalist, you may be affected by these weeds - which may be poisonous, or thorny and difficult to travel through. When travelling in any type of vehicle, bicycle or on horseback, keep to established roads and trails, check undercarriages, hooves and tires for weeds or seeds. When finding a noxious weed, PULL isolated plants, CLIP and bag in sealed bags the seed heads, BURY or BURN plants and seed heads and REPORT weed locations to land managers. For more information on Noxious Weeds in our region contact the Cariboo Regional District (1.800.665.1636) or e-mail Cattlemen's Association (1 250.573.3611)

    Detailed information on weeds

    Ecological Reserves

    are areas selected to:
    • preserve representative and special ecosystems;
    • protect rare and endangered plant and animal species;
    • preserve unique, rare or outstanding botanical, zoological or geological phenomena;
    • scientific research and educational use.

    100 MIle Marsh - wildlife viewing. Photo M. EvansBC Parks is responsible for the management and protection of British Columbia's ecological reserves, under the Ecological Reserve Act. Volunteer Ecological Reserve Wardens assist BC Parks by visiting the reserves regularly, and reporting their findings. Ecological Reserves are not created for outdoor recreation. However, some are open to the public for observational purposes such as bird watching and photography. Camping and the use of motorized vehicles are not permitted. There are ten ecological reserves in the Cariboo Region, covering a total of 17,307 hectares. Please cooperate in caring for these areas.

    Back Country Ethics

    British Columbia's wilderness areas are a popular destination for both residents and visitors. Popularity has its drawbacks, though. Over-use and improper travelling and camping practices in the backcountry have led to damage to the natural environment and unfulfilled wilderness expectations. To retain the high quality of our wilderness experiences, we all must accept responsibility for minimizing our impact.

    Special care must be taken in alpine and sub-alpine areas. These are among the most fragile because of severe conditions and a short growing season. To preserve this pristine wilderness, it is important to hike on designated trails, put up your tent on tent pads, where provided, and use a back-packing stove for cooking rather than an open fire.

    Taking pets into the backcountry, especially dogs, is not recommended. Pets can disturb other campers, foul trails and aggravate wildlife.

    Everyone who uses the backcountry must strive for "no trace camping". In other words, when camp is broken, there should be no sign of human use. Leave the area in better condition than when you arrived.

    IF YOU PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT - Take along a garbage bag and carry out all trash that you generate including biodegradable scraps such as apple cores, orange peels, etc.

    • Use portable gas stoves for cooking.
    • Boil or filter and treat water before drinking it.
    • If there is no outhouse provided, burying your waste in a shallow hole is the best disposal method. The hole should be located at least 200 feet from any water sources, campsites, and trails.
    • Pack out all toilet paper, tampons and disposable diapers or use a natural wiping alternative such as snow, leaves, or tree lichen.
    • Avoid urinating on plants because animals are attracted to the salty liquid.
    • Any washing activities should take place at least 200 feet from natural water sources and, if you use soap, make sure it is phosphate free and biodegradable.
    • For tooth cleaning, use salt or baking soda instead of toothpaste, which contains detergent.

      Take your photos and memories home with you - but please leave the park with no trace of your visit, so that others may also enjoy our protected areas.

    2014-parks-guide-back-coverCelebrating Our Protected Areas

    "Protected Area" is a term used to include all the areas BC Parks uses including all the areas we manage, from Class A Parks like Tweedsmuir, to Ecological Reserves like Doc English Bluff, to new protected areas like Churn Creek. Each type has different legislation - parks and ecological reserves have the Park Act and Ecological Act; whereas a few of the newer protected areas were established under the Environment and Land Use Act, which allows for other uses like industrial roads.

    BC is the first Canadian province, and one of the first jurisdictions in the world, to meet the 1992 United Nations challenge to protect 12 per cent of our land. Credit for this remarkable achievement goes to the British Columbians from all walks of life who participated in land use planning tables around the province.

    The Protected Areas Strategy guides protected area planning in BC, to help achieve a balance between environmental protection, sustainable development and community stability. Communities have found the delicate but critical balance between human uses and protection of nature. Resource use is allowed on sites where land use was previously uncertain, and protected areas are ensured. These solutions to sometimes long-standing conflicts provide greater economic and community stability.

    Protected areas are set aside as nature preserves, as scientific research areas, and as places for education and recreation. Protected areas help conserve our natural and biological diversity, and our cultural heritage. They also contribute to the growth of tourism and economic diversification.

    During the last decade British Columbians have worked to protect both the special features (e.g. habitat for endangered species, special land forms) of the province as well as to represent each of the province's 100 ecosections, or natural regions. Eighty-four of the ecosections now have significant representation. Some of the protected areas established include: the Northern Rocky Mountains; Kitlope, Stein Valley and Khutzeymateen. Locally, Ts'yl-os, Churn Creek, Cariboo Mountains and Big Creek are very significant new protected areas.

    • BC Parks: exploring, understanding and caring

    Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society
    Unit 102, 197 2nd Ave North Williams Lake, B.C., V2G 1Z5
    Phone/Fax: 250 398-7929 •
    ccentre@ccconserv.orgCoordinator: Marg Evans

    Original material in this website may be reproduced in any form without permission on condition that it is accredited to the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, with a link back to this site or, in the case of printed material, a clear indication of the site URL. We would appreciate being notified of such use. Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this web site, the CCCS does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy thereof. Anyone using the information does so at their own risk and shall be deemed to indemnify CCCS from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.

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