Heli-logging operations will once again be taking place in the Williams Lake area to minimize the spread of Douglas fir beetles on Crown land.
Jennifer Bowman with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, says they had heli-work happening on South Lakeside, and in Slater Mountain and Esler area last year.
“Trees that they were able to take out was a successful treatment because this year we have a decreasing number of trees that are showing infestation. This year is a followup treatment to further treat any fir beetle that we are seeing.”
About 3,600 trees according to Bowman were treated last year with this year targeting between 2,000-3,000 trees.
It’s anticipated that the flights will begin in the next few weeks in the South Lakeside area. When that work is completed, operations will move to the Esler area, followed by Slater Mountain (above Mile 168 Road) and the Fox Mountain area.
The heli-logging activity should be completed by the end of February 2018.
The Ministry notes that for safety reasons, members of the public should stay away from active harvesting areas. They are reminded that unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) must not be operated anywhere near the harvesting areas, since doing so can endanger the safety of pilots and workers on the ground.
No flights will occur over residential buildings. The aircraft will be flying only during daylight hours and will not be in the air on the upcoming statutory holidays.
Owners of livestock and pets are advised to take precautions to protect their animals from injuring themselves. Horses, in particular, can be sensitive to helicopter noise and may run if startled.
In addition to the direct harvesting of infested trees, the Williams Lake Beetle Management Unit 2017 Treatment Plan includes the following activities:
- The anti-aggregative pheromone methyl cyclo hexenone (MCH) will be used to prevent or disrupt Douglas fir beetle attacks on small infestation sites. This naturally occurring pheromone can successfully repel the beetles from vulnerable areas and also help protect small stands of trees near parks, protected areas, campgrounds, residential properties or old growth management areas. In some cases, the application of this pheromone has reduced Douglas fir beetle attacks by over 90%.
- “Trap trees” will be established by cutting down large, healthy Douglas fir trees in accessible areas. The trees will be left on the ground to attract adult beetles in the spring. Trap trees are more successful in attracting adult beetles than standing trees, and therefore can greatly reduce the number of attacks on healthy Douglas fir trees nearby. Once adult beetles and larvae are established within a trap tree, the tree will be taken to a mill where the beetles and larvae will be destroyed in the milling process.
- Where appropriate and if no other practical options are available, some infested trees may be cut down and burned on site to destroy the beetles present in the bark. Funnel traps will be deployed around mill yards and log-storage areas to capture adult beetles.
According to the ministry’s latest mapping data (based on aerial surveys conducted in the summer of 2017), Douglas fir beetles affected 45,862 hectares in 2017 and 53,311 hectares in 2016 within the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Regional District.
Douglas fir beetle infestations tend to be cyclical and the last major outbreak in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Regional District peaked in 2008, covering about 68,550 hectares. The volume of timber killed by the Douglas fir beetle in the Williams Lake Timber Supply Area that year was about 172,534 cubic metres.
(With files from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development)