On Tuesday September 19, 2006 BC Park Rangers Rob Bressette, Glen Wilson and Mark Latham flew into the Cascades area of Monkman Provincial Park south of Tumbler Ridge.
The Cascades are a series of ten waterfalls that step down along the Monkman Creek over a few kilometres.
Over the last couple of summers, a group of volunteers from the Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society (WNMS) have spent countless hours building a network of trails and two rustic campsites along the Cascades.
One of these campsites, the Cascades Camp, is quaintly nestled in the trees on the shores of a small pond with Shire Falls flowing in the foreground and sounds of the thunderous Brook Falls reverberating in the background.
It truly is a magical place; unfortunately due to the carelessness of visiting hikers some of the magic has been lost.
When the Rangers hiked from the helipad down to the campsite there was a faint smell of smoke in the air which became stronger as they got closer.
They thought they were going to have company for a few days at the camp, what they found was the campsite had been burnt and small sections of duff and roots were still smouldering.
Horrified, they quickly drudged through a deep mixture of ash and mud, which was once a lush layer of moss, and extinguished the hot spots.
The root systems of multiple trees were burnt and many of these trees had to be fallen because of their now dangerous nature.
If it was not for a week of wet and cold weather, there is a very good chance the fire could have taken off into the remainder of the park, with devastating results.
After this summer, hikers should know all too well the importance of maintaining a level of responsibility in the backcountry and frontcountry with respect to campfires.
According to the Park Act Regulations, Section 11 (1) (d) & (e), No person shall start or maintain a fire in a park or recreation area unless the fire is in a fireplace provided by the ministry, and not more than 0.5 metres in diameter and 0.5 meters in height. and Section (11)
(4) A person who starts or maintains a fire shall extinguish the fire when that person leaves the campground, frontcountry or backcountry.
After examining the area, the Rangers concluded that the fire probably started because it was built outside of the fire ring and/or it was abandoned before being properly put out.
These hikers, broke the law, irresponsibly ignored the potential dangers of campfires and caused permanent damage to a beautiful backcountry site.
If you have any information regarding hikers being in the park from September 10th to September 18th please contact the Ministry of Environment at (250) 787-3411.
All callers will remain anonymous.