Professional woodsman Dustin Porter takes a chainsaw to the fallen cottonwood tree with support crew at the ready. Photo courtesy George Doerksen

Concern for public safety prompts removal of a tree from Puntledge River

Multiple agencies team up for afternoon operation

Concern for public safety prompted a multi-agency effort to remove a fallen cottonwood tree from the Puntledge River, Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend, a large tree fell into the river, causing a dangerous hazard to tubers.

On Friday, Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) issued a public warning about the hazard.

READ: Warning issued about new Puntledge River hazard

Twenty-four hours later, crews were on the water, removing the tree from the area.

Participants included members of CVGSAR, along with members of the K’omoks First Nation Guardian Watchmen, led by Cory Frank; Warren Fleenor and Rupert Wong of Current Environmental; Comox Valley Emergency Program (CVEP); and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Professional woodsman Dustin Porter was the tree feller on hand and “really did the bulk of the work… he’s the one who really deserves a big pat on the back,” said George Doerksen, of CVEP.

CVGSAR president Paul Berry said the response on social media prompted Saturday’s removal operation.

“There were over 1,000 shares to our Facebook [post], with stories of individuals who had already been pinned, or injured, or thrust underneath the log,” he said. “With the long weekend looming, we thought it would be prudent to try and remove it if we could.”

The tree was chopped into smaller chunks, with the protruding branches removed from danger.

“There are still some larger chunks sitting in the river, but they pose far less hazard than they did before,” said Berry.

The procedure took about four hours to complete, with more than two dozen volunteers involved.

CVGSAR also manned the river upstream, stopping any river travellers from intruding on the process.

“It was a group effort from a lot of people who were concerned about public safety and wanted to make sure that the hazard was clear, with the long weekend looming,” said Berry.

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Dustin Porter (wading in water) and other crew members manoeuvre some of the cut logs in the river after Porter delimbed and bucked the large tree. Photo courtesy George Doerksen

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