Dog walkers at the end of their leash

Enforcing leash rules at Beaver Creek Park is raising the hackles of dog owners who frequent the area.

All provincial parks under 2

All provincial parks under 2

Enforcing leash rules at Beaver Creek Park is raising the hackles of dog owners who frequent the area.

So far, two tickets at $115 a piece have been issued by BC Park Rangers and one altercation led to police being called.

Locals have walked their dogs off leash in the rural area for years. Many know each other, but only by the breed or name of the dog and the park trail itself is pristine. A group of daily walkers have organized clean ups, picking up all kinds of debris including countless glass shards off the beach.

So why is this happening now? Why is BC Parks so focused on leash enforcement in Beaver Creek Park this year?

Well, it’s not just now, counters Hugh Ackroyd, BC Park supervisor.

“We’ve been dealing with this for at least five years now,” he said. “The process of achieving compliance with dog walkers has been very gradual over a number of years and up until this year has involved public information and regulatory signage and on-site engagement by park rangers.”

Three years ago, BC Parks installed a kiosk at the park entrance on Highway 22A just north of the Trail airport. It lists various bits of information, including the regulation that dogs must be leashed at all times a rule in all provincial parks under 2,000-hectares (Beaver Creek is listed as 81 hectares).

Prior tactics included posting signs along the walking trail but that proved costly and ineffective, says Ackroyd.

“Originally we just had the park boundary sign,” he explained. “The reason we put it (kiosk) in is we found that people were ignoring the regulatory signs and in fact, pulling them up and throwing them over the bank. So we thought, this really isn’t working what we have to do is try and educate the public into why we are doing this and that’s when we started the compliance plan.”

The province (BC Parks) has the jurisdiction for all provincial parks, including Beaver Creek.

The original park boundaries were created in 1965. Those limits stretch from the Kiwanis Beaver Creek Campground south past the airport but didn’t include the respective shoreline or chunk of property that surrounds the upper section of the popular dog walking route.

In 2001 the riparian area to the middle of the Columbia River became part of the park boundary and protected habitat, therefore subject to provincial regulations.

Beaver Creek riparian

Then in 2007 that last rectangular-piece of land, which was Teck-owned, was designated to BC Parks so now the whole area from Kiwanis Park past the Trail Regional Airport including the shoreline and into the middle of the river, belongs to the province.

“The reason that area was created as a Class A provincial park is because there’s not a lot of riverfront and waterfront that hasn’t been gobbled up by real estate or other things,” said Ackroyd. “And it’s a very important cultural site the whole park is virtually one big First Nations site because of the confluence of Beaver Creek and the river.”

All that aside the reason for stepping up enforcement in the 21st century is to protect the little guys, like ground nesting birds and skinks.

“We are trying to balance the recreational mandate and conservation mandate,” he emphasized. “We have a number of species at risk in the park. In fact, the Pend d’Oreille area, which includes Beaver Creek Park, has probably the highest number of species at risk in the Kootenay region.”

He admits to a fair amount of push back including a number of phone calls from dog owners pooh-poohing the whole idea of species at risk on land or near water.

“A lot of people don’t believe that we have those species at risk in the park and think we are just using it as an excuse.”

He pointed to this year’s Critter Day held at Beaver Creek Park in May. The event was a venture between fish and wildlife advocates and local businesses, giving people the chance to meet biologists and get up close to small species like snakes, reptiles, aquatic bugs and juvenile white sturgeon.

Beaver Creek Park

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