Nigel Casson tops a birch tree on Friday

Cheam wetlands still closed due to tree damage

Within Cheam wetlands park, there was damage to approximately 30 per cent of the trees.

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park is still closed following the massive damage caused by last week’s snow and wind.

The park was assaulted by the same storm that caused damage to power lines, roads, marinas and more throughout the Fraser Valley. The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), which operates Cheam Lake Wetlands Park, closed it down Monday, Jan. 5 due to the safety concerns.

“All our parks east of Chilliwack suffered some kind of damage,” explains FVRD communications manager Jennifer Kinneman. It took crews time to investigate the park, which, along with most others, needs cleanup of fallen branches, broken limbs and tree tops precariously perched above broken trunks.

Within Cheam wetlands park, there was damage to approximately 30 per cent of the trees. Cleanup began on Tuesday, Jan. 6 and continues as of The Observer’s press time. Crews were on-site Friday, January 9 to show the damage and explain the process of cleanup.

“We’ve never had, after one event, this much of a mess,” relates Gord Gadsen, FVRD parks resource technician.

He says all the branches need to be removed from the paths. Many of them will be run through the FVRD’s wood chipper and the chippings will be spread throughout the park. There are many trees that either need to be trimmed at the point of breaking or cut right down.

The small staff at FVRD have contracted some of the tree clean-up to contractors such as Nigel Casson from Top That Tree Services, based in Chilliwack. On-site Friday, Casson was observed putting on his climbing gear and essentially walking up the side of a giant birch tree beside the wetlands viewing platform. With grips on his shoes and a cable around the tree, he clambered up roughly 30 to 40 feet, his chainsaw swinging at his side.

Carefully assessing the broken tree first, Casson deftly used his chainsaw to bring down the top of the tree where the damage was severe. Gadsen explains that the felled tree top will be good for the beavers, who particularly enjoy birch trees. He then skillfully swung across to another tree where a smaller branch needed to come down.

This process is continuing throughout the week. Kinneman urges locals to not go into the park until it is reopened.

“The signs are there for a reason and the parks are closed for a reason,” says Kinneman.

For information on when the Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park and other FVRD parks will be reopened, check out the FVRD website at www.fvrd.bc.ca

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