By George Le Masurier —
During the years following WWII, the logging industry boomed on the B.C. coast. Tug boats pulled massive log booms down the Strait of Georgia every day, hauling millions of board feet of prime timber from northern Vancouver Island to lumber mills up the Fraser River..
Because of rapidly changing weather and stormy seas, it was a common occurrence for logs to bust loose from their booms and wash up on the shoreline. Those tangled logs, piled on top of each other, some with their root balls intact, have given a unique beauty to our beaches.
But it’s a fragile beauty. Today, tugboats rarely pull log booms down the coast, so there’s a small supply of new wayward logs. Beachcombers and private citizens have already stripped some beaches of the most spectacular driftwood.
Fortunately, it’s illegal to remove driftwood from Crown foreshore land within or adjacent to ecological reserves or federal, provincial, regional or municipal parks. It’s also illegal to take driftwood from private land or First Nations reserves. This law preserves a piece of B.C. coast history, and creates a natural museum of the important role that coastal waters played during the heyday of raincoast logging.
While on a walk through Goose Spit Park on B.C. Family Day, I was shocked to see some local residents stealing driftwood from this protected area. In the middle of the day, they brazenly loaded — and had perhaps cut — large pieces of driftwood with the dramatic pedestal of roots intact into their trucks parked near the public restrooms. One of them was a well-known local person.
At every access point to the beach from Goose Spit road, there’s a prominent signage pole that states, among other things, not to burn, cut or remove driftwood.
I reported these people to the Comox Valley Regional District’s community services branch, and shared photographs that identified them. The CVRD’s bylaw department sent each individual a warning letter. I would have preferred some harsher disciplinary action.
It’s disheartening that among all the people enjoying Goose Spit Park that day, I was the only person to report this crime. Many people may not know that it’s illegal to take driftwood. But, for kids and adults alike, It’s partly the large accumulation of driftwood that makes a visit to Goose Spit Park so much fun and attractive.
If we allow people to steal the remaining driftwood from one of the last protected areas, this little piece of B.C. coast lore and beauty will disappear forever.
Please don’t allow this to happen. Politely remind people attempting to take driftwood that it’s illegal to do so. Point to the sign posts. Take photographs of those that steal it anyway and report them to the regional district.