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With summer on the horizon, campers flocking to Vancouver Island’s popular west coast are urged to plan ahead as area officials look to curb illegal overnight and backroad camping.

The districts of Tofino and Ucluelet, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and local First Nations say they’re cracking down on these “disrespectful behaviours,” which have been “unacceptably high” over the past two summers.

A joint statement highlights the negative impacts on Indigenous lands and notes illegal vehicle and tent camping adds fuel to potential wildfires, putting “much-needed first responders at risk.”

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“To help limit the impact on this region, increased patrols and enforcement in 2022 will target dispersed and unauthorized camping within the areas of the Clayoquot Arm, along the Kennedy Lake Watershed, within Tla-o-qui-aht, Yuułuʔiłʔath, and Toquaht traditional territories, on municipal streets/lots, and within BC Parks and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve,” read the statement.

They say local patrols will be communicating regulations and respectful camping practices, issuing tickets or fines where needed.

“The environmentally friendly and responsible way to camp in the region is to make a reservation at one of the many authorized campgrounds in the area,” said Daniel Sailland of the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District.

Sailland says there are no serviced campsites on backroads along Kennedy Lake or highway pullouts, with zero tolerance for unauthorized camping and overnight parking within all communities.

With west coast campgrounds known to fill up fast, campers should find alternative arrangements if they don’t already have a reservation at an authorized camping area, such as booking a hotel room or delaying their trip altogether.

“I am proud that the west coast communities have come together as a unified group to stop unauthorized and destructive backcountry behaviour,” added Tofino Mayor Dan Law.

“Our region’s natural amenities are a precious shared resource⁠—misuse will no longer be tolerated.”

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