08/10/2013 15:57 EDT | Updated 10/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Raft Cove park closed over crowding concerns

BC Parks has closed Raft Cove Provincial Park on northern Vancouver Island, in response to concerns about overcrowding, and as hundreds of campers from a counter-culture group gathered at the small park.

Residents of Port McNeill, B.C., said participants of the so-called World Rainbow Gathering of Tribes, which started four days ago, would overwhelm the resources of the small provincial park.

The peace-loving campers planned to live off the land for a month, but some residents said they were unprepared and could damage the local ecosystem.

"The closure was prompted over specific concerns that an increase in the number of visitors unprepared for such a remote and rugged location would significantly increase the risk to public health and safety, the protection of the natural environment and the preservation of park values," said a statement from the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

The closure takes effect at 12 p.m. today and will last until further notice.

The World Rainbow Gathering was forced to move from its original site following a massive fuel spill into Lemon Creek and the Slocan and Kootenay Rivers two weeks ago.

BC Parks said it made the decision to close Raft Cove park after consultation with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the provincial archaeology branch, First Nations, and the RCMP.

BC Parks will be on site daily to manage the closure over the coming days and will reassess as necessary, the statement said.