Silver Springs Lakes is a natural jewel and a recreational magnet; a place near Elko we all love but are not leaving in its pristine condition. To keep Silver Springs beautiful, worth recreating at in the future and proteced for wildlife, requires community input. What are the solutions you see to better care for Silver Springs in the future?
Summer is when the site gets the most use by locals and visitors to the region. Spectacular mountain views, dry hot climate, dramatic cliffs, and clean, clear, cool water attract thrill seekers to the first lake for cliff jumping. What used to be a peaceful solitary visit is now mobs of people in July and August. Lately, people are dragging up floaty toys and coolers of beer, partying and camping overnight, where no facilities exist.
“People build fire rings everywhere in a high risk, dry forest. There are no bathrooms. It is a backcountry site and requires people to pack it in and pack it out,” said Lee-Anne Walker, Elk River Alliance executive director. “Many locals hesitate to take visitors and guests up there in the summer fearing chaos, parties, and unruly people.”
Elk River Alliance volunteers and youth from the Fernie Christian Youth Group have been cleaning up Silver Springs over the past number of years as part of B.C. Rivers Day in September, but the damage and impact is becoming extensive.
“Last year, most of the cleanup was related to people going to the bathroom everywhere due to the lack of facilities,” said Walker.
What are the solutions to Silver Springs stewardship? Let’s work together to ensure Silver Springs remains a beautiful recreational experience and healthy environment. The Elk River Alliance (ERA) completed a face-to-face survey of users on site through August last summer, many from outside the area. Simple solutions recommended by users included a composting outhouse, posted ‘day use only’ signs, better parking, and the government enforcing existing land use regulations and policies.
By going to a Survey Monkey link, locals can share their perspective, at www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCVVZR9, or visit the ERA Facebook page or website at www.elkriveralliance.ca.
“We are hoping to gather at least 100 local surveys, but the more input the better; it will take you five minutes!” encouraged Walker.
The survey closes June 20. Feedback will be used to develop a proposed solutions strategy to better steward Silver Springs.