By Jill Christie
The old airstrip, en route to Tata Creek, is now home to at least 10 homes. Some of them are literally meters from their neighboring pits. What was once a single track, dirt road, has become an arrangement of corduroy ruts laid across the landscape.
Vehicles of all shapes and sizes exercise their prowess under the heavy feet of some drivers who choose to weave through the sensitive landscape, home to species at risk, a wintering area for elk, and home to many other animals and birds.
It’s simply a beautiful stretch of land in the spring as it passes through wildflowers like crocuses and lupine stretching out towards the incredible view of the Rocky Mountain range.
Since Covid, the old airstrip has seen a marked increase in traffic with revelers leaving their cans, broken bottles, toilet paper, flea bags and other debris. Recently, a huge tree was sawed off by a chainsaw near a fire pit surrounded by telltale signs of people being intoxicated.
Some trucks, dirt bikes and quad bikes carve out their presence on designated roads and some people looking for a peaceful ride across the country are touched by the sound of brap brap brap shouting by.
The number of households has increased as everyone tries to find their “own place”. Some with tree rings, some well established, some just against the tree line.
This is a serious concern as we approach our summer. Fires that are left unattended, improperly extinguished, or that burn so hot that they continue to burn long after users have left are all major concerns for all that live in the Kootenays.
When people make irresponsible choices that impact the landscape, it directly affects the land, the creatures, and the plants that need the land to survive. The Crown lands we visit should not be a place where we play rough and abuse. It should be respected as our home.
We are fortunate to live in a place where these magnificent landscapes exist and we have the freedom to explore and recreate with few parameters. I would like to encourage people to tread lightly on the spaces we play in, for the integrity of the land and the creatures that inhabit the spaces, and so that everyone can enjoy the Old Air Strip for years to come. .
For more information on Crown land and how it can be used and by whom, call RAPP 1-877-952-7277 You can report an incident online and report a fire call 1-800-663-5555.
main picture: Aerial view of part of the old airstrip, showing damage to sensitive grassland. Photos courtesy of Jill Christie