Mission Mounties are now patrolling the west side of Stave Lake on a regular basis.
Officers toured the area for the first time this year over the Easter weekend and estimated there were between 30 and 200 people using the area at various times.
“The number of persons found in the area varied considerably depending upon the weather conditions,” said Mission RCMP Sgt. Shaun Wright.
The west side of Stave Lake has long been an area of concern for the District of Mission. There is widespread illegal gun activity, vandalism and garbage dumping.
In previous stories, Mission’s director of forestry Bob O’Neal said reports describe a scene out of “the wild, wild west.”
During the long weekend, police issued three tickets to dirt bikers who were riding without the required insurance on the forestry road and spoke to a few people who were illegally target shooting.
“Police provided education on the firearms discharge bylaw and the persons were cooperative,” noted Wright.
Mounties also received two calls for service. The first one was a report of a dog biting another dog, and the other was for an assault, which resulted in charges against four men, two from Langley, one from Surrey, and one from Chilliwack.
All of the people police interacted with lived outside of Mission, with most from Maple Ridge, Surrey and Langley.
Police are focusing on public safety, enforcing Mission’s firearm discharge bylaw, and promoting family-friendly activity in the area.
While hunting is permitted in the area, target shooting isn’t, according to a Mission bylaw.
“It’s a misconception that target shooting is permitted,” noted Wright, who said police will also have a presence on Dewdney Trunk Road close to the start of forestry road to speak to people about acceptable uses in the area.
The District of Mission will begin increasing its patrols during fire season.
“Our biggest risk out there is forest fire,” said Mission’s forestry director Bob O’Neal. “As it gets hotter and drier into June, July, August, and sometimes September, we’ll have people on call during weekends.
The district will also organize fire patrols if necessary, he added.
“We encourage the community to take ownership of the area,” said Wright.
Police will also be stepping up their patrols at the end of Sylvester Road.
“We just want to ensure users are utilizing the area in a safe and responsible manner as well,” Wright explained. “We do expect an increase (in the area) due to recreation target shooters moving there from the (west) Stave Lake area.”