BC Park closed Wells Gray Park as of Sunday morning, July 9.
All the parks and protected areas in the Cariboo and Chilcotin, including Bowron Lakes Provincial Park, have also been closed.
The closures will remain in effect until further notice.
Gy Ovenden, president of Tourism Wells Gray, was not entirely impressed with how the closure was handled.
“I completely understand the motivation to prioritize public safety in this decision. However, the decision to close to Wells Gray Park with no notice has given tourism businesses and visitors very little opportunity to prepare,” he said.
Ovenden added that Tourism Wells Gray will continue to share information related to public safety while also notifying visitors of the tourism experiences and accommodations that remain open at this time.
“My thoughts are with those impacted by the fires as well as our stakeholders, as the closure will certainly have significant economic impacts for the tourism industry during this busiest time of the year,” he said.
In an information bulletin sent out Saturday evening, BC Parks noted that BC Wildfire Service resources are actively engaged on multiple interface fires throughout the province, meaning that in order to ensure the safety of the public, the closure is necessary.
“Wells Gray Provincial Park is accessible by only one road, which would make an evacuation of the area difficult if it were needed. This proactive measure will enable a safe and orderly exit of the public from the area,” the BC Parks statement read.
No public access to Wells Gray Provincial Park is allowed after 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 9. Anyone currently in Wells Gray Provincial Park is required to leave the area.
BC Parks personnel will be available to assist the public as they depart.
At this time BC Wildfire Service is not aware of any wildfires that are an immediate risk to Wells Gray Park.
At 5,250 square kilometres, Wells Gray Park is larger than many countries.
The closure includes all of Wells Gray Park, including Clearwater Lake, Spahats, a portion of Mahood Lake and Murtle Lake.
As of press-time, North Thompson Provincial Park remained open.
For more information about the closure, please visit the BC Parks website: www.bcparks.ca