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Log removal stuck in a tangle of bureaucracy

This beaver-fallen cottonwood is jammed across the Cowichan River from shore to shore about a kilometre south from Vimy. - courtesy Rick Weston
This beaver-fallen cottonwood is jammed across the Cowichan River from shore to shore about a kilometre south from Vimy.
— image credit: courtesy Rick Weston

Perching yourself precariously on the edge of an unsteady platform while holding a roaring chainsaw isn't a highly recommended way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Waiting patiently on the whims of Mother Nature may be safer, but it's not exactly the quickest way to resolve an issue.

But those appear to be the only choices available to swimmers, boaters and Cowichan River lovers concerned about a sturdy cottonwood jammed across the river about a kilometre downstream from Vimy's Heritage Park.

Rick Weston found that out the hard way when he went on a fruitless quest to get the authorities to deal with the problem.

He called the conservation office, the RCMP, search and rescue, North Cowichan, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Ministry of Environment tips line and more. The response was pretty much universal.

"No one was too concerned," he said. "I phoned 10 or 12 agencies and no one was interested in doing something.

Weston is concerned, however.

The beaver-fallen log completely blocks the river passage, from shore to shore. People travelling downstream are able to portage over or around it, but with the river swirling quickly under it, a slip could be disastrous.

"I'm worried that when kids start tubing that someone will go under," he said. Drift fishermen are also affected.

The log could be freed by bucking it up with a chainsaw, but that could be a risky proposition, given the rushing water and the pressure it exerts on the log.

Local authorities have taken action to clear logjams in the past, but typically only in major cases that were causing major ecological or flooding programs.

The site in question is accessible only by river.

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