Nature has an innate ability to soothe body, mind and spirit; and offers countless health benefits. We seek the solace of the outdoors to de-stress, unwind, and recharge our batteries. Chilliwack’s breathtaking natural surroundings attract a multitude of visitors, both locals and tourists alike. It’s a great privilege to have access to such a magnificent landscape; and is the responsibility of all of us to protect this gift and preserve the environment for generations to come.
The Fraser Valley is the traditional territory of the Stó:lō First Nation. In Halq’eméylem (the language of the region), Stó:lō translates to “river”, and its people are known as “people of the river”. The Fraser River and salmon within were, and still are, an intrinsic part of their culture and way of life. The name Chilliwack comes from the word Ts’elxwéyeqw (Ch-ihl-kway-uhk). Stó:lō people refer to this land as S’ólh Téméxw – “our world, our land”. Because their ability to survive depended on the bounty of the land, the sacred task of ‘xyólhmet te mekw’stám ít kwelát’ – “taking care of everything that belongs to us”, has always been a fundamental tenet. The Stó:lō people have a respect, spirituality, and connection to the land that we can learn from.
Leave No Trace
The “Leave No Trace” principles are critical to ensuring the health of our outdoor spaces. They’re simple concepts that can have incredibly positive effects.
1.Prepare & Plan Ahead: Check regulations for the area you are heading to, and pack all the food, water, and gear you need. If you have to direct friends to your campsite, use maps or GPS coordinates instead of flagging tape or signs which are often left behind as unsightly litter. Minimize your impact by travelling in small groups and during quieter, off-peak times.
2.Pack Out What You Pack In: This is one of the most crucial things you can do to keep nature clean. And this means everything, not only obvious garbage like food wrappers, but also items a lot of people (incorrectly) assume will quickly decompose. Never leave behind your coffee grinds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable peels – these items take longer than you’d think to decompose, and leave an awful mess in the meantime, as well as serving as an animal attractant. Leave the environment looking as though you were never there.
3.Minimize the Impact of Campfire: Check for fire bans and only burn fires in designated spots. Don’t use fuel or accelerants to start your fire, and never burn garbage. Air quality is better for all if you keep your fire small. Bring your own firewood, or purchase it from the campground; never cut down branches or trees. After you’re done with your fire, be sure it is completely extinguished with water; the ashes should be cool to the touch. Many wildfires are human-caused and entirely preventable.
4.Leave What You Find: You may be tempted to keep a lovely rock or shell, or pick wildflowers, but by doing this, you are disturbing a delicately balanced ecosystem. A bee may benefit from the nectar in the flowers; an organism may be living under the shell. Digging up wildflowers or collecting their seeds can have a negative effect on their survival.
5.Campsite and Trail Etiquette – Minimize Your Ecological Impact: Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from a body of water and avoid damage to land by camping on established spots. Staying on established trails – activities like hiking and biking can cause trampling of plant life; and you can even bring in non-native plant species from other areas. The number one reason people get lost and require Search and Rescue is because they’ve wandered off established trails.
Always keep pets on leash and pick up their excrement. Proper disposal of human excrement is critical to avoid pollution of waterways, trails and parks, and to minimize the spread of pathogens. If there are no outhouses, burying human waste is the best way to do this. A small garden trowel is handy. Dig a hole 6 – 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet away from campsites, trails, and water, and cover the waste. Pack out used toilet paper, tissues, and hygiene products.
6.Be Considerate of Others: We all want to enjoy ourselves, so be cognizant of other campers and trail users. Let nature be the only sounds you hear: don’t play loud music, set off fireworks, or talk loudly. On trails, yield to hikers trying to get past you.
Spotting wildlife in their natural habitat is amazing to experience, but please leave the wildlife wild. Never feed wildlife: when they are fed, they start to depend on that food, which diminishes their own survival instinct and fear of humans. Before long, animals can become a nuisance or a safety risk. Besides that, much of the human food that people give animals is actually detrimental to their health. Feeding wild animals may cause them to crowd, which can lead to injury and the spread of disease. Never attempt to touch wildlife, and don’t get too close trying to get the perfect photograph. Respect their space and ensure your safety by using a zoom lens instead of trying to get close. Avoid wildlife during more sensitive times, like mating season, while they are nesting, or tending to their young, as well.
While camping, proper food and garbage storage is imperative in keeping away animals. Never leave food or trash in a tent. During the day, keep your food secured in a vehicle or a cooler. Some campsites have caches for food storage if bears are common to the area. At night, place any food, coolers, and garbage in a vehicle; or hang your food and garbage high on a sturdy tree limb (using rope and a sturdy bag). You can also buy specialized bear canisters and bags at outdoor shops.
Did you know that BC Parks is responsible for the designation, management and conservation of a system of ecological reserves, provincial parks, conservancies, protected areas and recreation areas located throughout the province? The environment that is protected by BC Parks contains nationally and internationally significant natural and cultural features. A substantial amount of Chilliwack’s nearby parkland, ecological reserves, and recreation sites fall under the care of BC Parks, and it’s important to recognize the impact we have on these sensitive and cherished surroundings. Here are some points to consider and be aware of when visiting any of these sites:
Smoking and vaping are only permitted in designated front country campsites or group sites. Never toss your cigarette butts on the ground: besides being litter, they’re a fire hazard that have been the cause of countless wildfires.
You must get permission to take off and land a drone in any park or protected area.
Lifejackets are crucial if you’re heading out on water. Conditions on the water can change in a heartbeat. Don’t just have your lifejacket near you, have it on: it can be the difference between life and death.
BC Parks has an idle-free policy that applies to both parked vehicles and boats, to help reduce pollution.
Mushroom picking is prohibited in provincial parks.
Want to learn more? These are some resources that we recommend referencing when planning your next excursion:
BC Search & Rescue Association
Tourism Chilliwack Hiking Guide
Take only photos; leave only footprints and experience the magic of Chilliwack’s great outdoors! Get inspiration for your next outing at Tourism Chilliwack.