The area in question is labelled Site 2 on the map that have been logged are shown on this map. (Submitted)

Riparian land clearing sparks concern at Cowichan Lake

Logging down to the lake over the Canada Day weekend was noticed by concerned Youbou residents.

Bob Crandall of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society reported Monday, July 10 that “There has been an apparent riparian area regulations violation of significant size. Many Youbou residents witnessed the south shoreline of Lake Cowichan being cleared by a team of heavy equipment on or around the July long weekend.

“Many land owners who witnessed this apparent violation reported it. CVRD bylaw enforcement officer Nino Morano and Conservation officer Brad Bowman are investigating,” he said.

Asked Tuesday, July 11 about the situation, Morano said the CVRD is investigating.

“Bob’s been in contact with us, too. He couldn’t provide details of exactly where the site was but we did attend a site in that general vicinity about a week ago. We’re working with the landowners right now to see how we’re going to correct this.”

Morano said the lands are assessed as “private managed forests”.

“That means there’s only so much we can do when they are assessed that way,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly what the legislation is for privately managed forests. Forest companies can do more than the average person with regard to development and clearing but I’m not sure how far they can go. We’re still investigating.”

The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society has a section on its website where anyone can report a riparian zone violation.

“It gives us great grief to hear reports of damage to the riparian zone of the river or lake,” says the site. “The CLRSS works extremely hard to fulfill its mandate to educate and inform people about good river and lake riparian zone practices.

“From time to time we are approached by members of the public who inform us of a serous riparian violation that they have observed and they ask us to do something about it.

“Enforcing riparian legislation is beyond our mandate and also beyond our resources. However, if you observe some violation of riparian regulations we do strongly encourage you to do something about it.”

The group offers the following tips to concerned residents.

Salmon-related violations should be reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Leave a detailed message with your contact information on their Observe Record and Report hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

Violations concerning other fisheries, wildlife or environmental protection are dealt with another way.

The government of B.C. has set up a program called RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) that also offers the chance to blow the whistle anonymously on riparian issues.

The RAPP website also explains the details of what to record and what to report in the case of bylaw violations.

“To make a complaint relating to CVRD bylaws, it is required that you provide your name, address and phone number as well as a description of the alleged offence and the location (address) where it took place. This information is kept confidential and is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy act,” according to the Stewardship Society.

Bylaw complaints may be made in person, in writing, by email, or by phone.

For current details on how to contact the CVRD’s bylaw enforcement department, go to www.cvrd.bc.ca and enter “bylaw enforcement” in the custom search box. There is also information there on how complaints are dealt with and how enforcement is achieved.

It’s also a good idea to let the CLRSS know about it at the same time.

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