Several overnight backcountry camping areas in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will remain closed for the rest of 2020, including the West Coast Trail, the Broken Group Islands, and the Long Beach unit.
Parks Canada announced the decision to close these areas was done in consultation with local First Nations in response to concerns voiced by these communities about ongoing risks of COVID-19.
Overnight experiences on the West Coast Trail, including Keeha Beach, Tapaltos, all other locations in the Cape Beale region, and the Nitinaht Triangle are suspended for 2020.
One-way trails in the Long Beach unit, including Schooner Cove, Combers Beach, Nuu-chah-nulth, South Beach, Willowbrea and Halfmoon Bay will be closed.
The visitor centres, visitor services, interpretive programs and all group activities and special events throughout the national park reserve will not be operational.
Limited day use opportunities are still available in some backcountry areas of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. However, motorized and non-motorized vessels, including kayaks, are not permitted to land anywhere within the West Coast Trail Unit.
All reservations for the Broken Group Islands and West Coast Trail will be automatically cancelled with all fees refunded.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve falls within the traditional territories of nine Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. First Nations communities are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and visitors to backcountry areas in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve pass through Indigenous communities, Indian Reserve lands and Treaty Settlement lands.
Indigenous people are also present on these lands for cultural, ceremonial, and harvesting purposes. Visitors often interact with Beachkeepers in the Broken Group and Guardians on the West Coast Trail, who maintain infrastructure and provide guidance and cultural information to visitors.
Although B.C. has moved into phase 3 of its reopening, First Nations indicated that they were not ready to reopen and expose their territories to the risk of COVID-19.
Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, along with the Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in First Nations had said on June 23, that travel in their respective territories will be restricted until safety concerns are met.