Residents should anticipate hearing the sounds of helicopter logging on Crown Land in the Williams Lake area in the next few weeks.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced Wednesday it will begin the second year of helicopter logging operations to minimize the spread of Douglas fir beetles on Crown land.
“Douglas fir beetle populations are currently higher than normal in parts of the Cariboo,” the ministry noted in a press release. “The insects normally attack small groups of trees and a significant infestation will weaken and eventually kill a tree over the period of about a year.”
As part of the Williams Lake Beetle Management Unit 2017 Treatment Plan, helicopter harvesting will be done on steep slopes in the Williams Lake area to remove infested trees.
Clint Sarver with Sarvair Aviation out of 100 Mile House said his company has the contract again, but noted he didn’t know if the Kaman K-MAX 1200 aircraft will be coming to work in the area as it did last year.
“We haven’t decided on that yet,” Sarver told the Tribune Wednesday.
Encouraging residents to be cautious, Sarver said the biggest worry last year was the fact that people were coming close to see the work they were doing.
“We ask people to please stay out of the work areas,” he added.
Work will begin in the South Lakeside area and then will move to the Esler area, followed by Slater Mountain (above Mile 168 Road) and the Fox Mountain area, the ministry noted, adding the heli-logging activity should be completed by the end of February 2018.
Residents can expect to see helicopters in the air as selective logging operations get underway, however, no flights will occur over residential buildings.
Aircraft will be flying during daylight hours only 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.
The public is 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.
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.