Clapp Basin road blockade planned

  • Jun. 24, 2011 2:00 p.m.

A group of islanders concerned about the impending closure of the Clapp Basin road are planning a blockade in an attempt to keep it open. “We are not trying to stop campers, just machines coming to close the road,” said Port Clements resident Matt Gaspar, who has been camping in the area for his whole life. “We’ll be starting Monday in anticipation of the Thursday deadline.” The owners, Kagan Bay Properties Ltd, have announced their intention to close the road as of this Thursday, June 30. The road runs from the bottom of the Rennell Sound hill south to the sheltered Clapp Basin. At one time, the area was a logging camp with a store and school, and is now a popular camping spot. It is also the location of the only boat launch on the west coast. “It’s a beautiful spot,” Mr. Gaspar said. “There’s a boat launch, there’s a 100-foot concrete block ramp, donated by Weyerhaeuser. There’s a beautiful pristine creek there. We get eagles there all the time.” Mr. Gaspar said there are about 10 regular users of the site who bring trailers and tents out to the site for the summer season, and many islanders and off-islanders who come out for the day, for food fishing or to enjoy the beauty of the area. “There’s always somebody using it,” he said. Mr. Gaspar said his father has been camping at Clapp Basin for the past 40 years, and his earliest memories of camping are at the spot. His three children, ages 5, 7 and 9, have grown up spending weekends and summer holidays there. “They’re a little bit upset about it,” he said. “They love that place.” Jim Piers, the lawyer for Kagan Bay Properties, said the owner has made efforts over the years to stop the public from using the road, but gates and signs have not worked. “The road is not safe because the bridges are failing and the culverts have deteriorated to the point they require replacement which is an environmental concern,” Mr. Piers wrote in an email to the Observer. “Also, as the culverts are required for fish habitats, they can only be removed during the current Fisheries’ window. Although the road is private and people should not be using it in the first place, the owner simply does not want to risk someone being injured or vehicles are being damaged or the environment harmed.” Mr. Piers’s phone number is listed on the road closure notice, and he said he’s heard from a few islanders about it. “A few people have called and when the reasons for permanently closing the road are given, the people are generally understanding,” he wrote.