Damaging the serene

Kersley residents dismayed with vandalism in pristine recreational area

Larry Martens checks one of the many birch trees damaged by having its bark removed for fire starter. This will cause the tree to die.

The residents of Kersley, 13 miles south of Quensel, are proud of what they have accomplished. There’s a well-maintained arena and community hall, many community activities and a pristine wilderness area called Sisters Creek Recreation Area (formerly known as the lease lands), administered by Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Recreation Sites and Trail Branch, as the property is Crown land.

A dedicated band of community volunteers maintain the local amenities including the rec area and despite repeated vandalism, valiantly keep up the fight.

In the community, volunteer Vince Berlinguette spoke of pushed over school signs, shoulder and road damage, lawns at the community hall torn up and other damage over the years.

“It seems to ebb and flow, each time we have a whole new crop getting their licence, it seems to escalate,” he said.

And, Berlinguette added, there’s the chronic problem of broken bottles and cans.

However, these problems can’t compare to the damage to the recreation area. Originally railroad property, it remained largely unimproved until 2003 when the threat of wildfires created a hazard concern.

The community looked to improve the roads crisscrossing the area and thinning the trees and removing combustible underbrush.

“As we were doing this we also wanted to improve the trails already in use,” volunteer Larry Martens said.

The lease lands were always popular with the 4X4 and motorbike crowd and both Martens and Berlinguette said they weren’t looking to discourage those who enjoy that kind of outdoor activity, they just wanted it to be safe and ensure the area was useable for everyone.

In 2009, under direction from CRD, Sisters Creek Recreation Area was open to the public with trails, including a wheelchair accessible trail, outside toilets, picnic areas with lawns and fire pits as well as extensive 4X4 and motorcycle trails.

“So they had somewhere to rip around,” Berlinguette said.

“But we became a target because we improved the area.”

And shortly after opening, they noticed vandalism at the heritage site shelter.

In 1914, Theodore and Cornelia Arnoldus arrived in the Kersley area and setup home close to where the shelter now sits. They are considered one of the pioneering families in the area, with descendants who still call Kersley home.

The shelter displays a picture of the couple and a brief summary of their lives in the area including Cornelia’s daily trek to Sisters Creek (about 2 km down a steep hill) for domestic water.

The vandalism was in the form of graffiti, broken bottles and downing of trees for firewood.

“I decided to bring firewood so no one needed to cut down trees,” Martens said.

“It took me all summer.”

But this year the vandals may have pushed the local community volunteers too far.

“They ripped the side from the shelter,” Berlinguette said.

“And what kind of a mindset sees it’s okay to rip off the vent pipes on the outhouses.”

Martens was outraged when they discovered someone had taken a knife and cut the pictures on the shelter walls.

“That seems to say they are dangerous,” Martens added.

Once again, Martens, Berlinguette and other volunteers will take the time and energy to fix up what has been damaged.

“How many times do you fix it before you get too damn old to do it anymore,” Berlinguette said.

“So many people in Kersley have worked hard to improve the area and most appreciate the improvements. They’re saddened and angered to see the damage.”

Martens went on to say this is a regional park, summer and winter, used by Kersley people as well as people from around the region.

“It’s a shame to see it spoiled.”

He added it’s disheartening to see huge boulders moved so vandals can 4X4 on the wheelchair trails.

“There’s a big burn mark on the concrete picnic table as well,” he said.

“We’ve had such good people enjoy the area but it only takes a couple of bad eggs to ruin it for the rest.”

Both men admit there’s not much they can do about it but both agreed they’d like to let the public and especially neighbours know what’s going on and maybe they could help report suspicious activity or out-of-control vehicles to the police.

In the meantime, they’re back out fixing the destroyed shelter wall and returning fire pits to their rightful place in the ground; determining which trees they have to take out due to irreversible fatal damage; and bringing in even bigger boulders to try and discourage wanton vandalism.

As long as they’re able, Martens, Berlinguette and a vanguard of volunteers will battle the ravages of the unknown vandals, in the name of community spirit.

Just Posted

Column: themes from the 2017 B.C. Flood and Wildfire Report

Columnist Jim Hilton offers an overview of the new fire and flood report’s 14 Strategic Shifts

Big victory for Quesnel’s U16 girls softball team in Kamloops

Unstoppable bats and a gem from Musselman propelled the girls to the win

Local athletes impress on Day 1 of Zone track and field event

CSS, QJS students showed off impressive skill as Quesnel hosts North Central Zone Championships

Tsilhqot’in community names officially recognized by Province

Tsilhqot’in names will now appear on provincial government resources, maps and databases

Editorial: respect where it’s due

Quesnel’s youth are impressive in their maturity and eloquence

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read