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

Park cleanup, 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

BCHL: Bulldogs best Salmon Arm at home

Bulldogs face Powell River in Sunday matinee Jan. 20; puck drop is 2 p.m.

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

Intern gives Port Alberni’s museum artifacts an update

St. John’s man travelled more than 7,000 kms to assist with curatorial duties

Port Alberni’s Kari Trott set to shine at Canada Winter Games

Trott is one of two Special Olympics BC figure skaters invited to the national event

BCHL: Bulldogs’ Hawthorne commits to NCAA Wildcats

20-year-old goaltender earns scholarship to play Div. 1 hockey next year

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Most Read