What is really causing floods?

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

Interesting to read about all the calisthenics BC Hydro went through up at their dam trying to hold back huge inflows of water into the Comox Lake reservoir in order to prevent serious flooding of the Valley below.

Of course, if this was to occur, it was all a result of “natural, uncontrolled impacts,” the combination of storm surges, increased river flows and big mid-winter tides that all came together over Christmas, as BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson pointed out.

Still, I’m rather curious as to why no one seems to want to mention some possible “man-made, poorly managed impacts” that may have been a big contributor to the recent flooding. i.e. the incredible amount of logging that has been rumoured to have been going on up along the headwaters of the Valley’s rivers and streams over the past 10 or 15 years and which is essentially stripping the higher-elevation forests down into a barren, lunar landscape.

Since Timberwest has been unwilling to share the figures of its annual harvest rates for its Oyster River division (all those private timber lands sitting above our Comox Valley) since  sometime back in the 1990s, perhaps the mayor of Courtenay and Mr. Watson should hire a local plane and maybe go take a look for themselves.

First, they need to go take a gander at the steep side hills alongside Comox Lake before flying up the Cruikshank River valley. After that, maybe they could head over to the headwaters of the Tsolum; say up around Constitution Hill and then over to the backside of Mount Washington?

If it’s as bad as many of our friends and neighbours who used to work on the claim have been telling us for sometime now, then I would highly recommend the mayor keep his raingear and boots handy. (Those businesses close to Lewis Park had better make sure they keep a large stockpile of sandbags on hand, too.)

Word has it that Timberwest is going to be continuing on with its accelerated rate of cut for another five years at least.

Regardless, this winter’s flooding potential for disaster isn’t quite over yet. We will probably receive word in the spring of a more serious loss occurring as a result of the incredible record water flows in the Tsolum River over Christmas.

At that time, expect to receive the sad news that the spawn from all of the past year’s salmon runs to the river system was all flushed out onto the Courtenay River estuary.

This indeed would be a very major setback since humpback (pink) salmon run on a two-year cycle.

If 2009’s record return was wiped out by last year’s floods — and now this past season’s has also gone down the drain — it could be the death knell for this particular species on the river.   

Rick James,