This has been an unusual year for the mountain national parks with international tourists unable or unwilling to visit Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the restrictions on international travel, more Canadians are staying home and exploring their own national parks, especially Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.
But with the increase in Canadian visitors this year, surprisingly there has been an increase in disrespectful behaviour towards our national parks and the people who live and work within them.
From first hand experience and hearing from front-line workers around the region, the amount of garbage left on the ground, rude behaviour towards locals and workers and blatant disregard and disrespect towards Parks Canada regulations are at near record levels.
I can understand that people are getting frustrated about COVID-19 policies that businesses and governing organizations have implemented but taking that frustration out on front-line staff is uncalled for.
To see my fellow Canadians be this disrespectful to our national parks and the people who call them home is disappointing and embarrassing.
Our national parks are here for all Canadians and future generations of Canadians to enjoy and experience breathtaking nature, not to experience large amounts of litter.
The workers in and around our mountain national parks are here to ensure visitors are able enjoy their stays to the best of their abilities and desires and these workers deserve everyone's respect.
Please, my fellow Canadians, put your litter into garbage cans or pack out what you pack in to our national parks.
Please treat everyone and everything with respect so we can get through these difficult times peacefully. Let's keep our national parks a beautiful, friendly sanctuary from all our troubles.
We are Canadians and we can be better than this.
President, Friends of Kootenay National Park Association