Excessive noise. Firewood transportation. Have you ever wondered why certain rules exist?
Thinking, research and science go into the laws and policies that cover provincial parks and conservation reserves. And it helps to understand the reason.
Today, we share the logic behind some of the rules our visitors ask us about most frequently:
Why can’t I collect firewood (or bring my own from home)?
The parks are full of wood, it’s true. However, it is important that you do not collect firewood inside the park.
Ontario parks welcome millions of visitors each year. If everyone grabbed a stick from the ground or a low branch from the tree, there would be nothing left.
Collecting any natural objects from a provincial park is prohibited and could face a fine.
Carrying firewood when traveling to or from your favorite provincial park may seem harmless, but it can spread invasive species like insects, plants and diseases.
Many of these species hide in wood and are difficult to detect. Millions of trees have already been infected.
You can help us reduce the spread by leaving firewood at home, purchasing kiln-dried firewood when available, and buying local.
If you remove firewood from an area regulated for a quarantined pest without prior approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), you could face fines of up to $50,000 and/or prosecution.
For more information on firewood movement restrictions and the latest updates on the emerald ash borer and other regulated pests, visit www.inspection.gc.ca or contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.
Why can’t I dump the water from my dishwasher in my place?
Would you be happy if the camper before you left a disgusting dishwasher at your site?
Even the best dishwashers leave small pieces of food in the water. Those small pieces of food attract wildlife and can attract unwanted visitors to your site.
Wild animals have a very powerful sense of smell and will be able to smell any leftover food residue. They may come to investigate, which could lead to unwanted interaction with humans.
Food and soap residue left in the dishwasher is also not natural for the park’s ecosystem. It is important to dispose of it properly to maintain the health of the environment.
You can safely dispose of dishwater at the trailer toilet station or by pouring it into vault toilets (latrines).
Why can’t I feed chipmunks (or raccoons, or jays, or foxes, or…)?
We understand. It’s really cute when a chipmunk comes up to you and apparently asks for a snack.
In reality, wild animals that do this do not display natural behavior. They are habituated, which is dangerous for many reasons.
When you feed a wild creature, it learns that it can depend on humans as a food source.
May begin to frequent human areas. Like roads.
You can change your behavior or invite friends over, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem (guess what happens to at-risk prey species when more predators come in?).
And what happens when humans are not there? Animals need to be able to find food for themselves and human food is not a healthy part of their diet.
Feeding our wildlife is illegal for a reason. We appreciate your love of nature, but admire our amazing animals from afar.
Why do I have to be quiet at night?
It’s not just at night.
Excessive noise is not permitted at any time, but there is a greater expectation of quiet at a campsite as night falls.
Of course, listen to music if it helps you enjoy your trip, but keep it low-key and use headphones.
Keep voices quiet after night falls and people begin to go to sleep. Remember: sounds really travel in a quiet campsite!
We want everyone who visits the parks to feel relaxed and at peace, and for many of our campers, this means enjoying the quiet.
Why can’t park staff pick up my trash?
Because we shouldn’t have to. We all share in the management of our beautiful parks and a responsible manager leaves no trash behind.
Don’t get us wrong: our staff are complete heroes and go to incredible lengths to keep the parks clean.
But littering is a huge problem in provincial parks.
Removing trash from every corner of our parks can require a great deal of time, resources and effort. We’ll say it again: we all share in the stewardship of our parks.
Garbage systems exist to make removing garbage as easy as possible. Before you throw out the trash, look for a trash can in your area. We bet you can find one (and if you can’t, that doesn’t mean littering is okay. If you pack it in, take it out!).
Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Properly bag all your trash and dispose of it in designated receptacles on your way out. Don’t forget that many parks offer recycling!
Even better, look for ways to reduce the waste you bring with you.
But parks are for me, right?
They absolutely are. But they are also for all our other visitors, including future generations.
Not to mention being home to a dazzling variety of plant and animal species.
We must all do our part to respect these precious spaces and yes, this means following the rules.