November 28, 2015 - 10:30 AM
ENDERBY - The Ministry of Forests still doesn’t know who’s responsible for a massive landslide near Enderby last year, but it’s standing by its belief the catastrophe was human-caused.
In a statement released last week, the Ministry said it believes someone tampered with a culvert, leading Dale Lake to spill its banks and send a deluge of water and debris down Cooke Creek. Extensive damage was done to Mabel Lake Road and the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre.
The Ministry appealed to the public for any information leading to those responsible for the tampering, but compliance and enforcement manager Patrick Tobin says they haven’t had much luck yet.
“We had a few folks call and give us some information, but no real leads,” he says. “We haven’t gotten the call we’re hoping to get.”
Tobin says a year-long investigation was launched into the cause of the landslide, and while natural causes like ice jams and beaver dams were considered in the beginning, the evidence pointed overwhelmingly to someone having tampered with the culvert.
“There’s been a history of tampering,” Tobin says of the culverts at Cooke Creek. “Sheets of plywood and stuff that would suggest someone had been intentionally trying to block the culvert. Those materials have no natural reason to be in the environment.”
Resource officers aren’t saying exactly what material they discovered the day of the slide due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, but Tobin says it was suspicious.
Investigators interviewed 26 people including local residents, forestry staff and people who use the area for recreational activities as part of the investigation. As for why someone would intentionally block a culvert, Tobin says it’s possible the reason was to raise the level of the lake to enhance recreational activities.
Anyone found guilty of causing environmental damage as a result of tampering with culverts can be ticketed $575 or fined up to $100,000 with the further possibility of jail time.
In addition to damage on the road and at the interpretive centre, the landslide also cut power and phone lines in the Kingfisher community, prompting a full scale emergency response to support residents. Tobin says the event also released a large amount of mud and debris into the Shuswap River, which may have impacted fisheries.
“The downstream impacts of this event speak to why we would put so much time and energy into this,” Tobin says. “It was pretty significant, so we wanted to make sure there was a thorough look at this and determine a possible cause and accountability.”
The Ministry is asking anyone with unreported information to come forward.
Anyone who may know the person or people responsible, or who witnessed suspicious people or vehicles in the area leading up to May 2, 2014, are asked to submit a report to the the Natural Resource Violation reporting line at 1-844-NRO-TIPS (1-844-676-8477), or online at https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm. Reports can be anonymous.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015