Yukon government considers cracking down on campsite ‘holds’

The Yukon government is considering stepping in to stop campers from laying claim to campsites days before they actually intend to stay there.

The Yukon government is considering stepping in to stop campers from laying claim to campsites days before they actually intend to stay there.

Proposed rule changes would reduce the amount of time someone could leave their belongings unattended on a Yukon government campsite to 24 hours. That’s down from the current 72 hours.

“This change would still allow campers to do activities (like fishing or hiking) away from their campsite for as long as 24 hours,” reads a questionnaire on Environment Yukon’s website.

“However, people could no longer ‘hold’ campsites for three days without being there (for example, leaving a RV at a campsite on a Tuesday to hold the site for arrival on Friday).”

The government is also considering upping the fine for leaving belongings unattended for too long. Currently that can cost campers $50.

While most campers are respectful, it can be frustrating when campsites that have been claimed sit unused, said Dan Paleczny, Environment Yukon’s director of parks.

“Where people get really annoyed is where they may have seen that being held, (so) they go and find another campsite,” he said. “But they see that the person it’s being held for doesn’t actually show up.”

Paleczny said the department fines roughly five people per year for leaving their belongings unattended for more than the current 72-hour limit.

Staff try other methods, like written or verbal warnings, first, he said.

He acknowledged that $50 is not much of a deterrent.

“That’s part of the reason we’re asking in this proposed change for our campers to tell us what would be an effective deterrent? How much money?”

The proposed changes come after a 2016 campground survey.

Approximately 84 per cent of more than 1,500 people surveyed said the territory’s campgrounds met their expectations always or most of the time.

Around a quarter rated their ability to find a suitable campsite as either poor or very poor.

One recommendation from the survey was to have more control or enforcement of the informal reservation system.

Other suggestions included a formal booking system, or real time status updates on the availability of campsites.

Those ideas are not being considered at the moment, Paleczny said.

Environment Yukon has updated its camping webpage to include information on when campgrounds are often particularly busy, based on historical data.

The department has also released a 50-page booklet detailing all of the territory’s campgrounds so campers can try out less well known locations.

“It’s sometimes surprising that people don’t realize we have 42 campgrounds and more than 1,000 campsites,” Paleczny said.

The most popular campgrounds are within two hours of Whitehorse but the odds of finding a site increase if you go a little further out, he said.

No new campsites are in the works for this summer, he said. Instead the government will be spending its energy on improving camping infrastructure like roads and docks.

The department is also making Marsh Lake and Wolf Creek campgrounds more accessible.

The second survey is online at: https://survey.gov.yk.ca/YG-Campsite-Occupancy-Survey.aspx

The deadline to complete it is July 10.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

This story was last updated May 17, 2017 at 1:15pm

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