07/15/2015 02:54 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Johnson Lake destruction, overcrowding blamed on social media

Johnson Lake, just outside of Barriere has long been considered a hidden gem, loved for its crystal clear water and privacy. But now frequent visitors and local residents say it's getting to be a bit too much.

There are a total of 12 camping sites at the privately owned resort on one side of the lake and 17 on the provincially-owned side. With the exception of long weekends, in the past neither has been fully booked. Now, every weekend hundreds of visitors are showing up.

Late last May, a travel blogger posted about the location in a social media post. The post went viral, and since then the small resort, which operates on the lake, has seen a massive influx in visitors. 

Regulars to the spot say that the lake and surrounding area is not designed for the vast amounts of people that have been flocking to the site. They say it's meant to be a relaxing spot, not a spot where people come to party.

Environmental impacts

The garbage being left behind by guests is one of the biggest concerns after seven weeks of consistent traffic.

Noelle Kekula is a recreation officer with the B.C. Ministry of Forests. She is in charge of the provincial campsite and is angry that people are being so reckless with their activities.

"Beer bottles left in the lake, beer caps, used condoms, cigarette butts; people just literally throwing their garbage in the lake," she said."People are coming up and parking anywhere and everywhere"

According to Kekula, people are launching motorized boats and Seas-Doos onto the shallow lake, leaving behind fuel and oil.

"People are coming that have no understanding of environmental sensitivities and their impact on the land," she said.

Long term effects

Those involved say that even campers who aren't leaving behind physical garbage are still having a negative impact on the area by simply making the trip.

Because of the sheer numbers of people arriving, Johnson Lake Resort owners Jim and Barb Lewko, say people stomping through wilderness have created nine unauthorized trails leading to nine new camping pads.

The Lewkos have also noticed massive clouds of dust being kicked up from cars driving down the road. They say it has blanketed the area, potentially harming nearby crops. There is also concern for salmon and bug populations which use the lake as a spawning ground.

More concerning, say provincial officials, is the amount of untended fires and smoldering cigarette butts they have found, even after the province-wide ban.

To hear the audio version, click: Visitors are ruining Johnson Lake, close to Barriere

Google Map: Johnson Lake, Barriere, B.C.