Campers flock to Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge

Park manager Stu Burgess said he expects more than 5

Park manager Stu Burgess said he expects more than 5

The May long-weekend is here and campers from across the Lower Mainland have already started their annual pilgrimage to Golden Ears Provincial Park.

Park manager Stu Burgess said he expects more than 5,000 visitors per day at the park over the long weekend, with 1,500 to 2,000 visitors in the campground area, with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 visitors in the day-use area.

Park staff have been working around the clock to prepare the park for the first big camping weekend of the summer.

“We are extremely busy, cutting grass, pressure-washing picnic tables and cleaning up all the debris that collects during the winter,” said Burgess.

The park’s 409 campsites are expected to fill up early today, according to Burgess.

“Right now there’s a lot of empty spots, but they are filling up fast,” he said. “But how busy we will be, will ultimately depend on the weather.”

The local weather forecast calls for a mix of sun and cloud for most of the weekend, with a 30 per cent chance of showers Saturday and Sunday, according to Environment Canada.

Campfires will be allowed, provided they are contained within the fire rings and don’t exceed half a metre in height.

As always, campfires are banned in the park’s backcountry, and anyone caught breaking a fire ban can be fined up to $345 or, if convicted, fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to a year in jail.

Nearly half of all wildfires at this time of year result from human activity. Since April 1, fire crews have responded to 93 fires across the province, of which 91 were caused by humans, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Ridge Meadows RCMP will be maintaining a presence in Golden Ears park over the weekend. While excessive alcohol consumption is always a concern, Burgess said the problem has been a minor one in years past.

“It’s the first weekend of the year people have to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” he said. “Some people do go overboard, but generally they only problems we have are with noise. After a few drinks, some people don’t realize how loud they are.”

Parking in Golden Ears Provincial Park, and all B.C. Parks, is now free.

No-trace camping tips:

•  pack-in, pack-out – what you bring in to a site should be taken home afterwards;

•  stay on authorized roads, trails, and designated motorized vehicle areas;

• limit your stay to no more than 14 consecutive days;

• respect the peace and quiet of others. Designated quiet times are 11 p.m. – 7 a.m.;

• keep campfires within the fire rings provided. Extinguish campfires thoroughly before you leave.

• For more information about park fees and amenities, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/golden_ears/.