A bear prowls through a campsite on Jones Lake earlier in August. (Submitted photo)

Trash at Jones Lake irking responsible recreation users

Food garbage and more attracting hungry bears to popular Fraser Valley camping area

Every summer, complaints of garbage in a once-pristine area resurface like a bad virus.

And this summer, a lot of those complaints are centred on Jones Lake. Mattresses, rotting food, building supplies, and broken camping gear are just some of the things people have been leaving at the remote lakeshore.

And while those leaving the trash behind seem oblivious to their actions, others who visit the area say they are both angry and sad about the lack of respect for the environment. And even more shocking is the disregard for what is largely bear habitat, and how food garbage can impact their survival.

Chilliwack’s Meghan Reid said recently on a Facebook page for local hikers that her family came in dangerously close contact with a bear searching for food recently.

“Last week my husband and 12 year old went up to Jones Lake for an overnight,” she wrote. “They spent the first hour bagging up trash (as we all know seems to be the usual up there. Everything from coolers to food to chairs).”

Once it was cleaned up, they set up their own tent.

“Within an hour this bear started circling the site,” Reid said.

They moved into their truck, took photos of the bear, and didn’t end up staying the night after all.

“They practiced 100 per cent bear safe rules,” Reid warned. “But when the ground is covered in trash the scent must linger. They ended up not spending the night.

So just a reminder to be bear alert.”

It’s not the first online complaint about Jones Lake this summer. Back in July, photos were posted online of mounds of trash left at sites. At that time, Nikita Aitkenhead of Chilliwack offered up help to clean the area, as has been done in the Chilliwack area in the past where garbage dumping is a major problem.

But the people of Hope who respect Jones Lake want the message out that there are better ways to get rid of trash.

“The lake is beautiful,” wrote Paul Landrecht. “It’s the hearts and minds of some disrespectful users that needs to change.”

Landrecht is the primary contractor in the area, operating the public use management area for BC Hydro at the north end of the reservoir that is on Jones Lake. He explains that while that area is owned by BC Hydro, the rest of the lake is Crown land and the responsibility of BC Forests through the Chilliwack office.

He feels the situation has actually improved at Jones Lake over the last few seasons.

“There are many users who see this type of thing and also clean it up,” he says. “The Lower Mainland Four Wheel Drive Associations and Off Road Clubs come every fall and do a clean up at Jones Lake as well as other areas in the Fraser Valley. I would love to see one season up here when we don’t have polluters leaving a huge environmental problem behind.”

Still, the experience has other users simply eyeing up other places to spend their time.

“It is a truly stunning area,” Reid says. “But the amount of people that are just there to party away from the law… it feels lawless.”

If you witness someone leaving garbage in an area such as Jones Lake, call the RAPP line at at #7277 on your Telus Mobility, 1-877-952-RAPP, or fill out an online report at the BC government website by searching Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP).

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