A small forest piles up at the foot of the CN Rail bridge each year, at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers.
The eastern footings get the biggest tangle of trees and other woody debris, due to the way the Fraser bends around a corner there and the Nechako dumps its watery load with more force on the western side.
The collection of driftwood stacks up through the spring and summer, making the area unsafe for canoeists and kayakers. If any of the trees suddenly broke loose, it could threaten anyone immediately downstream. Generally, however, the annual buildup is no cause for public concern.
"CN Rail regularly removes the logs," said Carrie Mishima, a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the main oversight department for a fish-bearing waterway like the Fraser River. "They inform us when they are going to do it; there is plenty of communication. They do so under best-management practices established to protect fish habitat. It is not a concern for us so long as they adhere to those plans, and they do."
It is approaching the time of year when that extrication work is done, said a CN Rail offical.
"Our engineering guys wait until fall, until the water recedes to its lowest levels," said Warren Chandler, the railway company's senior manager of public and government affairs. "They use a processor [a large industrial machine] to pick the logjam apart and let the logs continue down the river as they would have had the bridge not blocked their way."
Chandler said the machine is pressure-washed before entering the river so no fuel, grease or other pollutants enter the water.