A big Douglas fir tree undercut by flood waters the day before it topples into the Englishman River.

A big Douglas fir tree undercut by flood waters the day before it topples into the Englishman River.

River claims ‘matriarch’ estimated to be 200 years old in Parksville

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Parksville resident on loss of Douglas fir

  • Dec. 31, 2015 5:00 a.m.

A Parksville man is highlighting the power and devastation of erosion through the death of a “200-year-old matriarch.”

High-water events in early December on the Englishman River helped bring down one of the few remaining old-growth Douglas fir trees in the upper reaches of the estuary, said Rory Glennie.

“This magnificent tree was once living well back in the forest, firmly rooted in the rich alluvial soil of the river-bottom land,” Glennie wrote to The NEWS. “Over time and successive riverbank eroding floods, the forest giant crept ever closer to the stream bed, or more accurately, the stream bed came closer to it.”

The tree had a diameter of more than five feet at its butt and is estimated to be 200 years old. Glennie said it came down in the early hours of Dec. 8 during a flood backed up by a high tide.

Glennie also said this isn’t necessarily bad news.

“If it stays lodged there it will help create good fish habitat and will contribute to the overall wellbeing of the river,” he wrote. “And it may help reduce further localized stream bank erosion.”

“Over time many other lesser trees have succumbed to the ravages of flood waters in this area and have ultimately been washed away to the ocean. Perhaps this big one is heavy enough to withstand future high waters and will be there for us and the fish to appreciate for some time to come.”

A trail leads right to the tree through the Nature Trust of B.C. estuary park land at the end of Shelly Road.

NEWS Staff/Submitted by Rory Glennie