MANITOBA has far more happy campers this year -- at least the ones able to get through on the phone or log onto the provincial website.
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said thousands of campsites in provincial parks across Manitoba were booked through the Manitoba Parks Reservation Service website Monday on opening day.
It opened at 7 a.m. for campsite reservations and, by 10 a.m., more than 12,144 reservations had been booked -- an increase of 42 per cent over the same time last year.
Most campgrounds will open May 10. Northern campgrounds and, weather permitting, those along the lakes will open May 17. For information on specific campgrounds' opening dates, go to www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/camping/dates/index.html.
The May long weekend will be liquor-free in all provincial parks and some liquor-free campsites will be available all season in designated spots at Grand Beach and Birds Hill provincial parks.
Manitoba parks saw five million visitors in 2012. A record 67,500 camping reservations were made, an increase of five per cent over 2011. In 2012, 75 per cent of reservations occurred online, up from 26 per cent in 2003.
The public is also invited to provide feedback on the recently launched Building the Parks Province: Manitoba's Parks Strategy. There are investments of more than $100 million for park infrastructure in the strategy, including $20 million for new waste-water treatment facilities to protect Lake Winnipeg, $20 million for more drinking-water facilities and improved roads, and $20 million to renew Spruce Woods and St. Ambroise provincial parks following the devastation they saw during the 2011 flood.
To review the strategy and provide feedback, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parksstrategy/index.html.
To make a reservation, visit the reservation service online at http://prs.gov.mb.ca or call 1-888-482-2267 (toll-free).