Trees still block an access road to the north shore of Cameron Lake, where cabins appear to have escaped damage. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Parks cleanups and closures continue on Vancouver Island in wake of windstorm

Damage assessment underway due to fallen trees, hanging debris

BY MIKE YOUDS

Alberni Valley News

Parks and utility crews along with trail volunteers continue a massive cleanup effort weeks after high winds downed trees and scattered debris, forcing closure of area parks, roads and trails.

Some of those parks remained closed as another weather system brought snow then rain to inland and eastern sections of Vancouver Island.

The Dec. 20 storm knocked out power for up to two weeks in some locales, blocking roads and damaging property. Winds gusting as strong as 100 km-h in some areas levelled swaths of trees around Whiskey Creek in particular, forcing extended highway closures and traffic delays through the busy holiday period.

With widespread damage, B.C. Parks closed all of MacMillan (the southern section was later reopened), Englishman River Falls, Little Qualicum Falls and Hemer parks on the central Island. Other continuing closures include Maquinna (Hot Springs Cove), Montague Harbour (Galiano Island), Bamberton (Mill Bay) and Roberts Memorial (Ladysmith).

Severe weather continues to affect area parks and tourism.

Parks Canada kept in place a high wave warning through last Tuesday, recommending that Pacific Rim visitors exercise caution on beaches. Seven of nine trails in the national park are still closed due to storm damage. Staff are assessing the trails and will reopen them once considered safe. Radar Hill and Grice Bay roads remained closed on the weekend.

Parks on the central and southern Island took the brunt of storm damage, primarily with downed trees over roads and hazard trees, said a spokesman with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Park operators have begun post-storm assessments before a full-scale cleanup gets underway.

Gowland Tod and Goldstream provincial parks, together with Golden Ears on the mainland, reopened after initial closure.

Work began on Monday, Jan. 7 at MacMillan Provincial Park to complete north-side facility upgrades, including fence repair, boardwalk installation and trail surfacing, the ministry noted. Debris cleanup on the north side of the highway will have to be completed as well. The area is expected to reopen in mid-March.

A damage assessment determined 138 trees in the park failed at the root while another 55 snapped. Six trees will need to be cut and moved within the ecosystem area.

High winds usually take a toll on trees, roads and trails, but the late-fall storm packed an extra wallop. Even around the city, where winds were not as severe as some parts of the Island, windfalls blocked trails and left a section of Rogers Creek Trail temporarily impassable. An estimated 100 trees were down near Hole in the Wall.

Volunteers with Alberni Valley Outdoor Club were out with chainsaws, clearing debris within days along the trails.

“People who are using the trails will certainly clean up,” said Karen George, a club member.

Sandy McRuer, retired forester and a regular hiker, said there was quite a bit of blowdown damage in the Cox Lake area of Franklin River Road that has been cleaned up since the storm.

B.C. Hydro reported in the aftermath of the December storm that 756,000 electrical customers were affected. That made it a larger event than the August 2015 windstorm that hit the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley primarily, and larger than a 2006 windstorm that swept the Island and damaged Stanley Park.

Check individual park websites for updates on closures.

 

The beginning of Rogers Creek Trail was underwater following storms in late December and early January. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Just Posted

Going with the flow in River Tales

Crofton author documents many interesting experiences from her time on the Cowichan River

Paul Manly to host series of community meetings

The first meeting is scheduled for July 18, at the North Oyster Community Centre, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers reach tentative three-year deal

Union membership to vote on collective agreement on July 31

Island pickleball players perfectly prepared

Top-notch action at Fuller Lake Park in singles, doubles and mixed doubles

Waterfront Gallery to show Journeys, a multimedia experience of the real and imagined

The exhibition runs July 20 - July 28. There will be an open house on July 20 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read