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October 28, 2017 2:46 am

Cottonwood Island Park Damage Extensive

Friday, August 28, 2015 @ 4:30 AM


One of the damaged areas in Cottonwood Island Park – photos 250News

Prince  George, B.C. – Although there has not yet been a  price tag attached to the damage in Cottonwood Island Park, there will need to be some  repairs and  changes made.

The park  sustained  significant damage due to high  water levels on the  Nechako River  during the spring freshet.  The extent of the damage  really only visible  over the past week or so  as  the Nechako returns to  levels typical for this time of the year.

Supervisor of Parks  Sean Le Brun says at least one trail will have to be  re-routed   “One of the  trails that runs along the north side of Cottonwood Island is pretty much gone, there are sections  that are left, but we did lose a fair  bit of the island.  So what  we need to do is look at where we do have trail and try to connect  two points back  together.” cottonwoodislandnew4

(at right,  bank erosion cuts into  trail)

That  means  the riverside  trail   will be a thing of the past “Obviously we’re not going to  run  a trail right along the riverbank again, so  we’ll try to  connect the  trails without doing too much damage environmentally and what that process is, is really our next step.”   He says  much  of the north side of the island  has been undermined by the  river  “Short of stabilizing the bank and arming it  in some way  to protect it,  at great expense, it just doesn’t seem the  right thing to do  to build another trail and hope  that it doesn’t flood again.”

In addition  to the loss of trails  due to bank erosion, one bridge was damaged   when a cottonwood tree toppled on to it. A structural engineer may have to be brought in to see if the bridge can be repaired, or if it needs to be  replaced.

The area is environmentally sensitive,  so  LeBrun says  it’s more complicated than just  dumping  some  new gravel  and spreading it  around “We don’t want to rush into anything  and do things improperly or haphazardly.”

The Parks division has a $75 thousand dollar capital  trail rehabilitation  budget this year,  but   that money is to be used to build up and repair  all the trails in the City “It’s (the budget) not dedicated to one certain section , we just try every year to try and improve  a little bit here and there.”

It is too late in the year to make  repairs to Cottonwood Island Park,  but LeBrun is hopeful the  fall and winter will  allow time to  have some sort of design plan developed .  Depending on the  plan,  work would not likely start until  next summer following the  2016 spring freshet.

In the meantime,  park users can expect to see signs “The majority of the island is still available” says LeBrun, “You can still get on and off,   you can still  get from one end to the other,  there are just certain sections that   you will notice  some new signs.  The bridge itself  will be closed  until we can decide if it can be fixed or if it needs to be removed and replaced.  It’s  just a matter of keeping your eyes open and  being very careful if  you walk along the river bank because as we know,  there are lots of spots that have been undermined  and you will need to  exercise caution at all times.”

Le Brun says the  full report, complete with cost estimates to  repair damage,  is expected to  be presented to Council  some time this fall.  “If it is a larger amount, or beyond what’s in the Parks capital program  that would  have to go before Council for approval.”

LeBrun says while there are still  questions about dollars  and  trail connectivity,  there is  one thing  they do know “We’re going to have to look long and hard  at alternatives.”


I’m surprised the city isn’t going after Rio Tinto -. Don’t they “carefully” control flow in the Nechako river?

Jimmi was thinking the same thing.. Rio tinto does the same thing every spring.. They complain about the level in the dam and then release the flood.. You would think after so many years they would have figured it out.. Or maybe they don’t care as its all about making money who cares off the fallout.

Maybe Rio Tinto wants to remind people that they control the water in the River as per the 1951 Agreement with the BC Government. If we get constant flooding because of water release, perhaps they would suggest that this could be controlled by allowing them to produce electricity from the Kemano 2 Tunnel, and thus reduce the amount of water being released into the Nechako.

A reduction of water in the Nechako to facilitate producing more electricity with Kemano 2, would of course mean that we would probably lose most of the water in the Nechako during the summer months.

Who knows?

I have a vague memory that the Kemano Project agreement makes Alcan immune. Is that right?

70% of the river is wild, and the reservoir acts as a buffer during high water inflows. Without the reservoirs flows may have been even higher. That being said I wonder if Rio Tinto could mange their releases better. River flows have been more benign since the dam went in and development has reflexed that. More development in areas that where once more flood prone. I think Rio Tinto, province and local government has shown negligence in showing potential risk.

Cottonwood trees falling are not caused by rising water unless it is on the edge of the water. The one shown in the picture is not in such a location.

One can avoid such damage by doing danger tree assessments on an annual basis and taking down those trees which are in danger of falling. Before workers go onto a forested site an assessment must be made for danger trees. I do not know whether the City does that for treed City parks on an annual basis. They should to avoid possible injuries to park users as well as park structures.

As far as shoreline trails go, move them well back from the shore. Let the river do what it wants to do. Forget about whose fault it is. The dam is man-made, the trails are man-made. The Nechako River delta has shifted for thousands of years without the assistance of a dam. The shifting might come at different times now than it used to, but it comes either way.

We need someone who understands that to make a long range plan for the area park so that the annual damage is not done by the river. There are many places in the world that have come to realize that. Some began to realize it a century or more ago, others still have not realized it. It is time we joined those who work with nature rather than against it.

I think the most dangerous park spot in PG is the over hang on the cut bank above Pat Bell’s winery. That one high point has a good six foot under cut and someone standing on it wouldn’t even see it coming… I think it’s a matter of time before someone gets killed by that overhang. I would like to see the city maybe bring a compactor up there and shake the overhang loose maybe, or something else to mitigate the under cut danger there.

You want to fix Cottonwood Park ? Dredge the confluence of the rivers .

stcplanning.org/usr/Program_Areas/Flood_Mitigation/Beneficial Functions/Dredging_Factsheet.pdf

Dredging to reduce bank erosion has the opposite effect that intuition tells us. Some basic knowledge in hydrology would help to explain it. The linked factsheet above will explain some of it for those who chose not to believe me.

googling the key words “dredging bank erosion” will provide additional information.

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