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Posted: May 15, 2012

Increased enforcement at Lake Koocanusa on long weekend

One of several 'squatters' cabins knocked down and burned last year along the southeastern edge of Lake Koocanusa in B.C.

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources staff will team up with RCMP officers and other provincial officials in the Lake Koocanusa area May 17-21, to enforce an Open Fire Prohibition Order and help residents and visitors enjoy a safe and peaceful long weekend.

The Lake Koocanusa shoreline and nearby areas in the East Kootenay region attract many B.C. and Alberta visitors each year. The number of campers over the 2011 Victoria Day long weekend was estimated at 3,000 to 5,000.

The stepped-up enforcement campaign is partly in response to disorderly activity that occurred in the popular recreational area during the 2011 Victoria Day long weekend, when public and private property was damaged and several people were seriously injured.

An Open Fire Prohibition – restricting campfires and Category 2 and Category 3 open fires – will be in effect from noon on Thursday, May 17, to

RDEK Electoral Area B director Heath Slee tidies trash from one of the burned squatter sites along Koocanusa last year.

noon on Monday, May 21. This prohibition applies to all Crown land around Lake Koocanusa.

A map of the prohibition area is available online at:

http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/ftp/!Project/WildfireNews/Koocanusa_Closure2012-05.jpg

Areas excluded from the ban include:

* Private land;

* Supervised B.C. government recreation sites and provincial parks;

* Eye’s Ranch (a Crown lease);

* Newgate (a Crown lease);

* Sunshine Houseboats (a Crown lease).

The co-ordinated enforcement campaign will involve three RCMP detachments, East Kootenay Traffic Services, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, natural resource officers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, commercial vehicle inspectors and BC Sheriff Services.

Enforcement personnel will be patrolling throughout the Lake Koocanusa area all weekend.

“Communities in the East Kootenay region welcome visitors from all over the world, and those tourists play an important role in the area’s economy. The enforcement efforts planned for the May long weekend will help discourage unruly behaviour and promote a fun and safe atmosphere for residents and visitors alike,” stated Bill Bennett, Kootenay East MLA.

* For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca

* To report a wildfire, dial *5555 on your cellphone or call toll-free to 1-800-663-5555.

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