A Report From Carlson Headwaters and the Sechelt Peninsula July 24, 2008

On Thursday I traveled via Halfmoon Forestry Rd. to Surprise Lakes stopping first at Falls Pond. One of my first concerns, was were the bridges still in and they were. The bridges, placed by Pan Pacific to replace culverts that were not fish friendly, are apparently locally owned and are far from a permanent feature on a forestry access road that has given access for several decades.

We met a local stone carver, Michelle who has already found useful pieces and likely will find some more in the debris of Pan Pacific exploration. The road is in good shape with a few very minor trees partway across, which Michelle was clearing on his way in.

The Compound at the trailhead to Falls Pond, Bobcat Lake and Teardrop Lake has been vandalized. Mainly senseless destruction which has become the rule rather than an exception in isolated paces on the Peninsula. The lack of care and sensitivity to wilderness and nature is prevalent and worrying.

The elk were a common and a current presence in the bog-lands north of Teardrop Lake and Bobcat tracks were found on the way in to Falls Pond. The was a good deal of recent bear sign on trails and roads. The recently dug ponds were barren of obvious amphibians, where there had been tadpoles and salamander larva in the first year of excavation.

The Lakes and ponds were full and on Ursus and the upstream pond had a high water event had killed some scrub trees on the waters edge. It is a bit strange with recently killed trees around the water and resembles a lake or pond raised by beavers and the trees killed. I suspect an ice dam or something like that held the runoff long enough to kill the shoreline trees.

A walk into Ursus campsite revealed a sustained high water event that had covered the fire-pit and the water was higher than usual for the time of year. Beavers may be at work here maintaining high water levels.

We went on from here to Carlson Lake via the fishing trail. This trail through old growth up until recently was a walking trail and is now frequented by ‘Quads’ which have wrecked the trail in spots. I would like to challenge the Quad community to upgrade the trail so it is suitable for everyone and protects the old-growth.

On this subject the ongoing activity of quad-bogging? (Not sure of the terminology.) This activity is not sanctioned by the Quad Club/Associations, but is common and destructive. For the most part only the Recreational Vehicle users can enforce themselves and keep their activity acceptable in the environment. User reputations are at stake here!

The ongoing fishing pier at Carlson Lake is getting some upgrades, but the activities at the inlet campsite are not of a acceptable standard. Salvaged construction lumber and power nailing to trees in the campsite indicates a lack of care and understanding of the value and quality of the forest and campsite. That plus the usual trash left or burn and left indicate that the users do not understand the principles of no trace camping or even marginally reasonable wilderness use. My last visit to the outlet campsite (south end) was discouraging and I know that many out there are cleaning up after a few and that many destructive activities are unnecessary to bush use and enjoyment.

From Carlson Lake we went to Wormy/Long Lake on the much improved access to the southern campsite, by Wormy Lake cutblock. A small quarry at the start of the road reveals a very significant limestone rock outcrop which indicates Karst and all the conservation measures apply as described BC Forestry Manuals for Karst Landscapes, mainly that none should be destroyed by industrial activities. The Wormy Lake cutblock has not improved the outlook of the Wormy Lake area, which although in itself is a gem has been altered and degraded by clear-cuts, now on both sides. The improved road access has further degraded the quality of some campsite occupants. A local young family that we met there had cleaned up the site and were despondent about improved access and further despoiling a long time favourite site for them. This campsite has never been pristine but was manageable by responsible users when the access was difficult.

Unfortunately, the message of this note well have to be overwhelmingly that our backcountry is subject to an increased level of misuse. In the past year I have seen a roadside party site that was comprised of dozens of skeet discs mostly shattered, discarded beer and liqueur containers, dozens of spent shotgun shells and other refuse. In the past year I have turned in boxes of spent shotgun cartridges, dozens of 22 & 45 calibre shells all from one site, at one time to the Pender Harbour Detachment of the RCMP. This along with discarded beer and liqueur containers from the same site, Carlson Peak. I ask who would like to be in this isolated spot when this combination of ingredients was consumed. The basic questions arise of spreading lead across the landscape for no usefull reason, drinking and firing firearms in our backyard wilderness with no usefull purpose and the absence and ignorance of any wilderness ethic or reason. I have also picked up this combination of party materials and waste food and containers at Wormy Lake a number of times. One other theme that I will mention here, is the use of discarded construction debris for bonfires all over the Forestry and back road system of the Sechelt Peninsula. Finally, dishonourable mention to absurd bush toilet habits that are prevalent throughout the bush party spots.

Flora and fauna studies have and will further reveal that the South Sunshine Coast has a broad level of indigenous wildlife and biodiversity that many areas of the Georgia Basin or anywhere wish that they had. In this in interface with a significant human population, it is critical that everyone learn to act responsibly and reasonably and preserve our resources.

My overall comment here will be this summer has accelerated a level of lawlessness and destruction on the South Sunshine Coast. I call upon residents, visitors, media, local governments and enforcement agencies to address and act upon a threat to the wellbeing and enjoyment of our Region.


Sincerely, John Dafoe

Coastwise Consulting

8945 Redrooffs Rd., Halfmoon Bay, B.C., V0N 1Y0