Efforts to attack Douglas-fir beetle infestations around Williams Lake will continue into the new year, the ministry of forests confirmed this week.
During a presentation to city council at its regular meeting Tuesdy, resource manager Jennifer Bowman and district forest health specialist Kristine Wilker said the areas that will be targeted include 168 Mile behind the stockyards, off Hodgson Road in the Esler subdivision, and above South Lakeside.
“There has been an outbreak and you can see many red trees that indicate they were attacked last year,” said Bowman, noting all the sites were identified through an aerial survey as well as some ground probing.
“We have prioritized areas that need treatment,” Bowman said as she showed council a map.
A local forest health committee made up representatives of government, major licensees, smaller licensees, community forests and woodlot owners meets once a month, Wilker said.
“We are all working together to co-ordinate activities to address the Douglas-fir beetle kill. There are lots of resources going toward treatments throughout the entire district.”
The main focus of the treatments are to remove trees with current beetle attack in them from the forest and to take them to mills where live beetle brood will be destroyed through the milling process.
Treatments include sanitation harvesting through contracts and small tenure holders and major licensees, using trap trees with an MCH (pheromone) application and falling and burning where necessary.
Helicopter harvesting will take place from now until Feb. 15, 2017, only to take trees that are currently being attacked, Wilker noted.
Once the treatment is completed there will still be red and grey trees remaining as those trees do not have any live beetles in them, Wilker said.
When asked by Coun. Jason Ryll if there is a safety risk to leaving red trees, Wilker said it is only the first phase of the project and that it is important to leave some trees there for habitat.
Wilker said the ministry has been working closely with Tolko Industries who has provided resources for probing information and noted
Tolko will also be doing some sanitation harvesting in the beetle-infested areas.
Information signs have been posted encouraging site safety and reminding the public to stay out of the areas during harvesting operation and drones should not be used during logging operations, Wilkers added.
People wanting information on how to tackle Douglas-fir beetles on private property are asked to remove attacked trees and destroy all infested bark before April 1, including firewood.
When asked by Mayor Walt Cobb how may trees will be removed in total, he was told about 3,500 trees or 20 truck loads from each area.