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Enjoy the long weekend but follow the rules

The weather forecast may not agree, but the May long weekend often signals the start of summer, and with it the many pleasures the season brings.

But be aware if you are out enjoying the great outdoors this weekend that various enforcement officers will be patrolling East Kootenay recreation areas.

The B.C. government said Wednesday that natural resource officers, conservation officers and the RCMP will be patrolling Crown land, waterways and recreation sites throughout the summer, stepping up those patrols this weekend.

Park rangers will patrol B.C. parks to enforce park, conservancy and recreation area rules, and conservation officers will be out to enforce fish, wildlife and environmental regulations.

To find out which B.C. parks are open this weekend, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/. For information about trails, lakes and other recreation sites, go to www.siteandtrailsbc.ca.

Here is a reminder of B.C. regulations related to recreation.

Camping

• Many campgrounds have specified rules and guidelines. Visitors are asked to comply with the posted rules.

• Gates in provincial parks and some recreation sites are closed at 11 p.m., unless otherwise stated. Only registered campers are allowed in campsites after 11 p.m.

• Excessive noise is not permitted. Please remember that sound can travel far in the open air, especially music and loud talking.

• Liquor consumption is prohibited in parks, with the exception of your own campsite.

• Barbecues must be used on the ground unless barbecue attachments are provided on picnic tables.

• To avoid problems with bears, lock your food in your vehicle at night. Use the garbage containers provided and maintain a clean campsite. Never feed or approach bears.

• Designated swimming areas within marker buoys are intended to protect swimmers. All watercraft and water-skiers must stay outside the markers. Lifeguards are not on duty in BC Parks or recreation sites.

• Visitors can use trails to safely travel through the most interesting and beautiful parts of BC Parks and recreation sites, without damaging sensitive plant and wildlife habitats. Please stay on the trails.

Campfire safety

• Always check the Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca before heading into the backcountry to find out if any open burning prohibitions are in effect.

• If campfires are allowed in your area, bring a shovel or keep at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.

• Make sure the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving it unattended for any period of time. Ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished in an ashtray and are not tossed away carelessly.

• Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter (roughly 1 1/2 feet by 1 1/2 feet).

• You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. A fireguard is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.

• You may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if your negligence results in a wildfire.

• Members of the public can report wildfires or unattended campfires by calling *5555 on a cellphone or by calling 1-800-663-5555 toll-free.

Off-road vehicles

• Respect the environment when riding off-road vehicles and use trails that are designated for motorized use.

• Most provincial parks are closed to off-road vehicle use unless posted otherwise.

• Operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are reminded that these vehicles must be insured if they're driven on forest service roads.

• Keep vehicles out of sensitive sites that are easily damaged, such as wetlands, grasslands, alpine areas and subalpine environments.

• Failure to comply with regulations could result in a fine of $575 or (in more serious cases involving damage) up to $100,000 and a year in jail.

Fishing

• Make sure you have a valid angling licence (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015) and are aware of angling regulations for the waters in your area, including gear and bait restrictions.

• If you are operating a small vessel, ensure that you have your operator's licence with you and be aware of safety regulations for operating small vessels.

• For more information, please visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/

Pets must be kept on a leash at all times within provincial parks and in some recreation sites. Pets are not allowed inside park buildings.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation offers a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone who breaks wildlife laws, vandalizes private property or contravenes other property laws.

Report suspicious activities and environmental damage to the Conservation Officer Service's toll-free, 24-hour Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277), or call *7277 on your cellphone.

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