Steep fines and penalties for those caught damaging grasslands

By Jessica Lepp
March 20, 2016 - 1:04pm Updated: March 21, 2016 - 1:56pm

KAMLOOPS — Over 100 people gathered to help clean up the grasslands near Dewdrop Range in Kamloops on Sunday.

It came after a recent rash of illegal dumping which is polluting and damaging the preserved area.

WATCH: Full story by Reporter Jessica Lepp

At first glance you might mistake it for a landfill or a dumping ground.

But the Dewdrop Range is actually a protected grassland near the Tranquille Ecological Reserve, northwest of the city.

“On my way up here, I passed a herd of big horn sheep. I saw a bunch of mule deer, meadowlark and bluebirds. It's a great place to go for a hike too,” says Provincial WildSafeBC Coordinator Frank Ritcey, who helped organize the grassland cleanup.

The beautiful grassland is being destroyed by those illegally dumping their garbage.

A pile of window frames and shattered glass were seen on the side of the road.

It was a very successful clean-up at the Dewdrop today with more than 115 people helping.

Posted by Kamloops Naturalist Club on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ritcey says, “it's amazing, we've got cement sinks, building materials, windows. You name it, it's been dumped here. It's ridiculous. We've got a very good landfill system, take it to the dump.”

While the litter is evident so is the environmental damage from those ripping up the grasslands with their vehicles.

Conservation Officer Kevin Van Damme says, “we have a protected area, a park area, and ecological reserve here. Folks are damaging it with their vehicles and 4x4's. That impact can stay on the landscape for 100 years on some of the sensitive grasslands being damaged.

The mess is devastating for nature lovers but the turnout of about a hundred volunteers was reaffirming.

Van Damme says, “it's fantastic to see all these folks out here, doing their part to cleanup environment. It's a small few who don't act responsibility, but these volunteers are encouraging those who act irresponsible to do a better job.”

The Conservation Service says those breaking the law can anticipate steep fines.

“If you damage the environment, there are serious penalties. Some of the environment takes a long time to get back to it's natural state. You can receive a fine up to $3 million and or three years in jail.

Members of the public can play their part in helping preserve the area according to Ritcey.

He says, “it's really important people speak up when they see people driving off road. There's a number they can call (1-877-952-7277) and that's the 24 hour Conservation Officer Service reporting line.  

Seedy Saturday returns to Kamloops