One campground owner was upset that the state wouldn’t let him remove fallen trees and logs from Rifle River after a drowning victim died, a report said.
Omer’s community is still trying to come to terms with the drowning death Amisha Thomas, 27, of Troy. Thomas was tubing on Monday afternoon with a friend.
“She came around the corner and saw a huge log jam, and the current pushed her right to that log jam, and she got stuck underneath it,” Tom Mason, owner of Riverbend Campground said.
The pre-med student drowned in the high water that day. Police say Thomas wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Mason was devastated by her death. Mason had been at odds over the cleanup of wood debris in and near the Rifle River.
“Sent a nasty, nasty email to our Governor, State Representatives, Congressman, DNR,” says Mason.
He is upset because he claims that he has been clearing dead trees and logs out of the river for years to protect customers. Mason claimed that the Department of Natural Resources had told him to stop a year back because it was illegal.
Mason says, “There are people along the river, during the rainstorm, the tree is falling in front of them, and behind them, it’s something that is preventable.”
He believes that the tragedy is partly due to the fact that dead trees were not allowed to be removed from certain sections of the river.
Ed Golder, DNR, sent a statement regarding the issue of clearing dead trees from the river and logs near the river.
He stated that log removal is permitted in Michigan rivers, even those of designated natural rivers like the Rifle River, as long as permits are obtained. Logs found in these water bodies are essential to flood plain connection, fisheries, and wildlife habitat. They also have an impact on navigation.
He stated that “all these concerns must be weighed when deciding whether logs should or not be removed from a stream. Although the DNR doesn’t usually remove logs from rivers, we support local communities doing so, provided that the permits are obtained and the removal is compatible with the river’s ecological and recreational value.”
The statement continued to state that “as with any water activity, we strongly encourage peoples to wear a life jacket when they are on the water and be aware of unsafe conditions on any water body, whether it is the Great Lakes or an inland lake, or a stream or river.”