July 30, 2019 1:19 pm

Tourists asked to stop polluting the Similkameen River

Abandoned camping gear on the banks of the Similkameen River near Keremeos, B.C.

Village of Keremeos
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As the Similkameen Valley records an increase in recreational tourists, local governments are asking visitors to refrain from polluting the Similkameen River.

The Similkameen River starts on the east flank of E.C. Manning Provincial Park and flows through the Nlaka’pamux and Syilx/Okanagan People’s territories and the communities of East Gate, Princeton, Hedley, Keremeos and Cawston.

It’s a popular ‘floating’ destination, and the Village of Keremeos, the Town of Princeton and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) are issuing a public appeal.

“Don’t leave floating devices because you don’t want to carry them out, put your empty bottles back in the cooler and don’t throw your chocolate wrappers in the river,” Keremeos mayor Manfred Bauer told Global News on Tuesday.

WATCH: (March 2018) Village of Keremeos wants to ban camping at unsanctioned site


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“It really is all about making people aware. If you want to enjoy this pristine area that you are part of, make sure that it stays that way, which includes taking your garbage.”

The public advisory says the Similkameen River is also a vital part of the region’s complex and sensitive ecosystem, as it provides habitat, biodiversity, drinking water and water to grow food.

READ MORE: Village of Keremeos requests additional police officers, calls current service unacceptable

Meanwhile, Bauer said recent efforts to ban camping at an unsanctioned campground along the riverbed southeast of Keremeos is working.

Seasonal farm workers and transients were notorious for taking over the site every summer and leaving drug paraphernalia, human waste and garbage behind.

The Village of Keremeos attempted to acquire a 13-hectare parcel of Crown land in an effort to enforce local bylaws, which include no overnight camping.

Bauer said the village abandoned the application, as most of the land leading to the site is on private property.

“As we dug deeper and deeper into who actually owns that area, it turned out that most of the access that you would need to get to the small area that is Crown land, it’s across private land,” he said.

WATCH: (May 2017) Garbage, human waste on riverbed cited as concerns at unsanctioned Keremeos campsite

The village worked with private property owners to erect signage warning visitors there is no public access to the private land.

“The owners were very happy to help us keep the area pristine and clean and free of garbage,” Bauer said.

READ MORE: Village of Keremeos requests additional police officers, calls current service unacceptable

Bauer said the odd person ignores the signage, but only “minor enforcement” has been required.

“It’s nothing like we used to have; the area is clean.”

He said local governments are budgeting for increased signage along the Similkameen River to discourage polluting or the destruction of habitat and riparian areas.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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