Old growth trees may be a major attraction at Hirsch Creek in Kitimat, British Columbia, but they are also the reason the city is officially closing the campground.

And in future camping at Radley Park will be limited to May 15-Sept. 15 each year, according to the Kitimat Northern Sentinel.

An administration memo to the city council explained that all trees in both parks were assessed in the spring of 2008 by registered forester Andrew Blix.

Based on his findings, he recommended that all large trees in Radley Park within 150 feet of any campsite be felled and identified specific trees elsewhere to be removed or heavily trimmed.

As a result of the latter, 25 trees at Radley Park had been dealt with last year and a further 14 this year.

In Hirsch Creek Blix recommended camping be eliminated entirely.

Municipal manager Trafford Hall told council the problem was the old trees in the parks were very exposed to winds and as blow down occurred the exposure of the remaining trees increased.

Also of concern was the city’s exposure to liability should a tree come down.

The Municipal Insurance Association had been advised of the situation and its risk manager, Keith Gibson, had put forward three alternatives:

  • Camping be eliminated in both parks.
  • The clear cutting of all large trees at both locations.
  • Follow the suggestions of the Advisory Recreation Commission: no camping at Hirsch Creek and continue to allow camping at Radley with ongoing tree assessment and removal as required.

The commission had also recommended signage regarding danger trees and a policy for high winds be put in place, both of which took place last year.

Signs now warn people to clear out of the park in the event of high winds.

Recreation director Joe Iannarelli reassured the council there would be access to both parks for day use which, in the case of Radley Park, meant angling driftboats could continue to use the pull out during the spring steelhead run.

“But we do not encourage camping at any other times other than May 15-Sept. 15,” he emphasized.

Iannarelli also explained those dates were chosen because the traditional periods of high wind are late September through October and March through April.

He said that over the past 30 years only two trees have fallen during what’s now to be the camping period at Radley, and both of those came down in August.

The council unanimously accepted the ARC recommendations.