The summer camping season is fast approaching as the weather continues to warm up in Southern Manitoba. In fact, many people are busy preparing their campers for the first official outing this coming May Long Weekend.

Elisabeth Ostrup is the Manager of Recreation and Education Services with Manitoba Provincial Parks. She said camping remains a very popular pastime in Manitoba with year-to-date campsite reservations up slightly over the same time period last year.

"But the prime camping season is when school is out, so July and August are always the busiest times of the year so there's plenty of campsites available over the May Long Weekend. It's not too challenging to find something for someone who makes decisions at the last minute."

Ostrup is also asking campers not to move firewood this season but rather purchase it locally where they are camping. She said this will ensure no pests are carried from one community to another and help protect Manitoba's trees and forests.

Meantime, the Government of Manitoba announced Tuesday that it is lifting the annual 'May long weekend' liquor ban in provincial campgrounds this year due to a decrease in alcohol-related incidents over the years.

“We know Manitobans love to get out and enjoy the great outdoors whenever possible, so we want to make this change and allow adults the opportunity to responsibly enjoy their experience at our provincial parks,” said Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires.

The ban was originally implemented in 1995 following a number of incidents in provincial parks directly attributed to alcohol, and was in place in six of the busiest provincial campgrounds.

According to a government statement the province will ensure alcohol-free camping is available all season at a number of provincial campsites. This will include special family-friendly, liquor-free camping bays at Birds Hill and Grand Beach provincial parks.

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