Telegraph Creek Road reopens to light vehicle traffic

BVSD photo two

It's been almost three weeks since the road to Telegraph Creek had to be closed due to a washout that destroyed a part of the road.

Since then, crews have been working to repair the road, and helicopters have been used to transport food and supplies into the community.

And this morning, the road finally saw a partial re-opening. From 5 to 7 a.m., 12 to 1 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., light 4x4 vehicles can now travel the road with adequate clearance.

Tahltan Band Council Chief Carmen McPhee says repairing the road has been a stressful process. Although crews were able to fix the initial washout, she said that multiple other washouts, floods and mudholes happened as well due to constantly melting snowpacks. Since not all of the snowpacks in the area have melted, she fears that more flooding is yet to come.

"We will have a creek just show up out of nowhere, and it just floods across the road. If it was an area where we're used to having water come down across the road, the culvert would be too small, so then it would run across the road and max out the culvert. This is the issue we're having. There's several places where creeks cross, and some of the snowpack hasn't even melted. It's going to be an ongoing thing probably until July with the other creeks that haven't lost their culverts yet."

McPhee grew up in Telegraph Creek, and she says that flooding and washouts were not a frequent occurrence.

However, when the 2018 wildfires happened, much of the vegetation in the area was destroyed. As a result, she says there's nothing to hold back the floodwater anymore. 

"We're having water where we've never seen water before. Sawmill Lake is about a kilometer away from our community. There's probably six to eight outlets of water going into the lake. I've lived here all my life -- there was one outlet in the lake before. So, significant differences."

Both floods and wildfires are connected to climate change, and McPhee agreed that the environment in Telegraph Creek is changing. During the 2018 wildfires, she says temperatures hit 45 degrees -- a temperature she says she's never seen before in the area, and one that created the perfect dry conditions for a wildfire. 

As for when the road will reopen in full, McPhee's not sure when that will happen, but she says the community is appreciating that there's at least a small opening for now.