Partiers trash Grotto Canyon
One of the Bow Valley’s most popular hiking and climbing areas was denigrated and turned into a waste pit last weekend.
Grotto Canyon, which attracts hikers and climbers year-round, was the scene of a large party that attracted between 200 and 400 event goers, Saturday (Aug. 25), said Conservation Officer Andy Rees.
The canyon, located about 10 kilometres east of Canmore on Highway 1A, was the scene of a large party, with live music and hundreds of people, said Rees. The party started in the early evening, he said, and went on into darkness.
The otherwise pristine natural area was turned into a waste pit as partiers left human waste, feminine hygience products, beer cans, broken glass and food litter in the canyon. As well, trees were limbed or cut down for firewood.
Further, public safety specialists were called in at about 2 a.m. to rescue a partier who broke his leg.
Along with conservation officers and RCMP attending the scene, questioning people and laying numerous charges under the Provincial Parks Act, four Alberta Parks staffers were on-site Sunday morning to clean up the mess.
“It was disgusting,” said Rees. “We hauled bags and bags of garbage out of there. The event was illegal and it occurred on parkland where that shouldn’t happen.”
For the most part, party activities took place where the trail through the canyon splits at a waterfall where Grotto Creek flows.
That water, said Rees, is one of the major concerns with the party taking place. Human and other waste can pollute the water which runs through the canyon and then flow on into the Bow River.
“It’s also one of the most popular trails in the area,” said Rees. “This could have a huge negative effect. After talking to people there, it seems this party was common knowledge for a lot of people in this area. Most of the people there were from Banff and Canmore.”
Alberta Parks and RCMP are continuing with an investigation regarding the party, and ask that anyone with information call Kananaskis Emergency at 403-591-7755, Canmore RCMP at 403-678-5519 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
“Park areas are just not appropriate for this kind of thing,” said Rees. “There was lots of liquor and drugs and the RCMP were worried about the possibility there were impaired drivers leaving the scene. So there was open liquor in a public place, which is illegal, and illegal camping.
“We need to get the word out that, while something like this may seem harmless in a wilderness area, it’s not the case. On the Sunday morning, some kid’s camps were in there hiking and came across the type of garbage that was left behind.
“The people (at the party) ranged in age from 17-18, so some were underage, up to people in their late 30s.”
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