Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Taroko officials to begin fighting illegal camping

By Wang Chun-chi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taroko National Park officials expressed concern over illegal camping at the park, saying they would take action as campers flock to the park this summer.

Hehuanshan (合歡山), which straddles Nantou and Hualien counties, is a popular spot for campers seeking views of the night sky not affected by light pollution, the officials said.

The area from Wuling (武嶺) to Siaofengkou (小風口) is covered with tents, the officials said, but added that camping in areas outside of designated campgrounds in the park’s Lushuei Campsite (綠水露營區) is illegal and that it would start imposing fines.

Park authorities said that crowds of visitors flock to the mountain to camp during the Lunar New Year holiday, summer, flower blossom season and other extended holidays, adding that most people choose to camp around Hehuanshan for its ease of access.

The officials said they regularly send park rangers to greet campers and advise them about park rules, but they are often confronted by visitors who say: “This is unfriendly behavior, you are meddling.”

“Camping deep in the mountains is dangerous and the more accessible areas around the parking lots are small and do not meet the conditions needed for camping. Those going too far into the mountains are taking a big risk — should they fall ill at night, it would be extremely difficult for medical personnel to reach them in time,” Taroko National Park Administration Deputy Director Chang Teng-wen (張登文) said.

Chang said that while the park is attempting to be flexible in dealing with illegal camping, it would be forced to impose fines in accordance with the National Park Act (國家公園法).

Chang said the administration’s main concern is public safety, adding that he hopes the public will respect park rules.

Chang advised campers to make use of the Lushuei Campsite, which has raised wooden tent platforms, sinks and showers for public use.

Chang said campers can use the facilities for up to five days without a reservation for NT$300 per day.

However, convincing campers to use the campground has proven difficult, Chang said.

“More than half of the campers who come to Taroko still choose to camp on Hehuanshan, with the remainder mostly camping in areas around the parking lots at Kunyang (昆陽), Wuling and Siaofengkou. These places let people enjoy views of the stars, sunsets, sunrises, cloud-filled skies and flower blossoms,” a camper surnamed Chen (陳) said.

Chen said the parking lot areas have become popular due to the recent popularity of roof tents, which can be quickly raised on top of vehicles, keeping campers safe from flooding, snakes and insects.

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