blog by Mike Brewer, Shambhala Site Logistics Coordinator
For five magical mountain days every year, we gather and we celebrate. We celebrate with our goodness, our love, our respect and our community.
Then, when it’s over we head home, and the Salmo River Ranch goes back to being a peaceful farm in a quiet Kootenay valley. One of the biggest challenges we face every year is trying to make sure that when the festival is done, the farm can go back to its regular routine and the cows can go back to their grazing.
Across British Columbia, only 5.0% of the land is usable agricultural land and an even smaller portion, only 1.1% of the province, is considered to be prime farm land. In 1973 the provincial government formed a commission to protect the limited amount of farm land, and Agricultural Land Reserves (ALRs) were identified.
The Salmo River Ranch where Shambhala takes place every year lies inside one of these areas and all of us, as Shambhazens, have a responsibility to help preserve this land.
As the festival has grown from 500 people gathering for a weekend party to 10,000 people forming the largest city in the West Kootenays for a week in the summer, the impact that we are having on the land has grown as well.
Despite people’s best intentions cars compact the soil and garbage gets left behind. Every year it gets a bit harder to restore the farm to its pristine condition. In recent years the Agricultural Land Commission has expressed concern that the amount of soil compaction* on the farm has become significant enough that mitigation measures need to start being implemented.
[*Soil compaction occurs when heavy traffic compresses the soil, causing it to lose pore space. Affected soils become less able to absorb rainfall, thus increasing runoff and erosion. Plants have difficulty in compacted soil because the mineral grains are pressed together, leaving little space for air and water, which are essential for root growth. Compaction of agricultural soils is a concern to many agricultural soil scientists and farmers, since soil compaction due to heavy field traffic may reduce plant growth.]
This year, to help preserve the farm land, the free parking for people that choose to camp in the car-free zone (now called Metta) will be moved to a new location, outside of the ALR.
You’ll still be able to drive down as far as the Drop Zone to unload all of your camping supplies before returning back to the long term parking and there will be shuttles running between the parking and the camping areas as well. The more people who choose to leave their cars in the long term parking, the less impact we’ll have on the farm land and the more prime camping spaces will be available for everyone to use.
For people that still want to camp with their cars in the Sunshine (“Overflow”), Starlight or Jersey Camp Zones (the fields on either side of the main road, Starlight being the larger area) there will be a small fee to help offset the costs of the remediation work that takes place once the festival is over.
The parking fee will be $40 for the areas closest to the Downtown area (Starlight & Jersey) and $20 for the North field (Sunshine).
The fees are double for RVs and oversized vehicles because of the extra space they take and impact they have. Parking Fees are mandatory for vehicles this size, as our parking lot is not within the festival camping boundaries.
|Sunshine Camp||Starlight Camp||Metta Camp|
|Up to 7 Passenger Vehicle||$20||$40||N / A|
|RV / Bus / Oversize (8+)||$40||$80||N / A|
|No Vehicle / Park in Free Parking Lot||FREE!||FREE!||FREE!|
You can camp in ANY of our 3 camp zones for FREE if you choose to leave your car in the parking lot.
If we all do our part to lessen our impact on the land, it will help ensure that the Salmo River Ranch stays green and healthy for years to come. Anything we can do to reduce the number of cars will help not only the farm, but the environment as well. Fewer cars on the road means less pollution being pumped into the atmosphere.
Consider carpooling with friends or check out pages that are available on facebook or sites like kootenayrideshare.com. Road trips are a great opportunity to have a blast with old friends, make new ones and do your part to help reduce our overall carbon footprint.
Thank you for joining us on our journey toward making Shambhala a greener festival and preserving the beautiful farm land the festival is held on.