Burns Lake has its own conservation officer.
There were once several COs stationed at Burns Lake at one time, but in recent years all of the Conservation Officer Service’s (COS) environmental enforcement work has been conducted from Vanderhoof.
“Upon successful completion of field training in nearby Vanderhoof, a new conservation officer will be based in Burns Lake,” said a BC Ministry of Environment spokesperson.
This new CO is Blake Knibbs. He finished his academy requirements in September at Lethbridge College and has been doing his practical component with the Nechako Lakes area ever since. He is the son of a CO and was raised in Smithers, so he has a working familiarity with the region.
“One of the best parts of this job is that no two days are the same,” Knibbs said.
He was on his way to becoming a red seal auto mechanic when he switched careers. He considers his original craft to be an asset in his life on earth, now. His prior knowledge comes in handy because “your truck breaks down, your quad bike breaks, and sometimes you’re in the middle of nowhere, so you have to be resourceful.”
He knows he will be alone in many ways as the only CO in the vast Lake District. Vanderhoof is not far away, however, and COS works closely with other enforcement agencies such as the RCMP, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the province’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, CN Rail Police and many others
“Additional resources from other areas will be brought in to address priority issues in Burns Lake as needed,” the ministry said.
The Ministry of the Environment was asked why, after years of several COs stationed at Burns Lake, there was none and now only one, the response was “The deployment of COs is regularly reviewed and adjusted by the COS as needed. Factors to consider for CO deployment include officer safety, geographic location and call volume.”
Knibbs said the general public in a region like the Lake District tends to have a working appreciation for the environment. While it is well known that some individuals, groups and even companies sometimes deliberately try to break the law for their own benefit, many breaches are committed simply out of ignorance. The onus is on the public to know the laws of the land, but Knibbs likes to raise public awareness.
“One of the main goals of the CO service is voluntary compliance (so education is more important than enforcement on many issues of the day) because we want to make sure that there are fish and wildlife, and that the environment is safe and sound, for generations. come,” he said.