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Fallen tree creating hazard on the Campbell River

Jamie Turko is warning recreational river users about a log hazard that virtually spans the width of the Campbell River.

"We have an old growth hemlock that's been here for a couple of hundred years that fell into the Campbell River March 12 during the giant windstorm that we had," said Turko, owner of Destiny River Adventures and a log time river guide and search and rescue volunteer. "Now it's creating a river-wide hazard to recreational users.

"My main concern is anyone that's out on the river for them to be aware and to make sure that they're safe and can get around this."

The log is hard to avoid because it reaches almost from bank to bank after being blown down during the powerful March 12 windstorm. It was one of the largest hemlock trees on the banks of the Campbell River and now there's only about 20 feet between either bank and the tree itself. And that presents a hazard to inner tubers and people who like to float down the river on sunny days.

It's going to be a while before anyone can move the log, if it, in fact, can be moved, Turko said. The tree is anchored to shallow water on the north side of the river and in the middle and south side, there are branches that point downstream that have wedged into the river bottom and are holding the tree fast. Removing the tree will take a tremendous effort that is not without some danger. The best plan would be to swing the front of the tree back towards the north shore to align it with the bank and thus create some fish habitat. But to swing it would require somebody on the trunk cutting the branches away. Once the branches are cleared are almost cleared, the tree would like start to move with the force of the river current putting anybody on it in danger. Plus, the tree needs to be anchored to a large enough tree on the shore in order to stop it form shifting during a removal operation but there are few trees larger than the one in the river.

A helicopter could be brought in to do that but that is an expensive proposition and something that some official agency would have to take on. Turko has contacted BC Hydro and BC Parks but has not had a response yet as to whose responsibility it would be to remove it, if anyone's. The fact is that trees falling into the river is a natural process. It happens all the time. This one happens to be particularly large and inconveniently located on a popular recreational body of water.

A similar situation on a side channel of the Campbell River just missed being a tragedy last summer when some youths riding inner tubes on the river were swept into a fallen tree just days after Turko had issued a similar warning. Once word of the near miss got out, swift action was taken by the community and provincial agencies to move it.

The tree on the main channel of the Campbell now, however, is a different proposition. It is significantly bigger.

Turko said that he as a river guide will be able to avoid the tree as will accomplished kayakers but he's concerned about kids and the general public going for a float down the river unaware of the potential hazard and the skill needed to negotiate the obstacle.

 

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