'Steady stream of garbage' left at Cultus Lake after long weekend

Popular outdoor attractions in BC are being left covered in trash by campers.

Popular outdoor sites across B.C. left covered in trash by tourists

Residents of Cultus Lake in the Fraser Valley say they were forced to clean up after tourists, following the Victoria Day long weekend. (Kristie Hammond)

Residents of Cultus Lake ,B.C., are angry after the area was left covered in trash following Victoria Day weekend celebrations.

One social media post of the lake, located just south of Chilliwack, B.C., showed empty bottles, garbage bags and junk food bags littered along the docks.

"You see a steady stream of garbage down the stream toward the Fraser River," said Russ Lemp, a resident of Cultus Lake. "It is a lot."

Every weekend in the summer, Lemp sees garbage left behind, which, he says, is often kicked off the docks and into the creek below. He says he and his neighbours are usually forced to clean up the trash that ends up in their own backyards.

"You pick up everything from apple cores to beer bottles to condoms," said Lemp

Lemp is frustrated at the increase in the amount of garbage he has seen in the 12 years he has been at the lake.

"I'm ashamed for the way people treat nature," he said.

'This is my home, my backyard,' wrote Cultus Lake resident Sadaf Baradar on this Instagram photo. 'When you come to visit, please pick up after yourself. This picture is only a small representation of of the amount of garbage covering our beaches and docks.' (Sadaf Baradar )

Underfunded parks

Chilliwack Coun. Sam Waddington told CBC's B.C. Almanac that he has seen garbage left behind across the whole Chilliwack Valley. Volunteer residents end up having to clear the mess themselves, which, he says, has reached astounding numbers.

"In the last 10 years, volunteer groups have pulled 225 metric tons of garbage out of those areas in one small 40 kilometre valley," Waddington said. "That can't continue to fall on the backs of volunteers."

Waddington said it is up to volunteers, because the underfunded parks can't afford to pay for more conservation officers. Officers must keep the parks clean but are also busy responding to bear and cougar sightings, patrolling the parks and going to community meetings.

Waddington said that there are only two to three officers for the entire Chilliwack district, which covers over 260 square kilometres. 

Following the 'pack in, pack out rule'

Rick Curry, who lives in the Campbell River area, is a frequent camper who has seen popular local campsites left covered in trash.

"We clean out four bags of diapers, cans, you name it, everything," Curry said.

He feels there needs to be more education about the "pack in, pack out" rule, where campers should leave no trace of the area they have been to.

"Some people grow up in a city. They don't have a clue there's not a garbage man to clean up," he said, adding that as a young child he learned this rule: "You go there, you pack in and out and leave only footprints behind."

With files from CBC's BC Almanac