Column: Local forests showing effects of changing climate

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

There is a war in the woods. And it sure as hell ain’t pretty.

Especially to the environment.

The enemy is another tiny critter affecting vast areas of fir trees in the Interior of our province.

Unlike the mountain pine beetle that ravaged lodge pole stands by 1.5 billion board feet of lumber per year, this beetle bores into both mature and immature stands of fir. The Malakwa and Wap regions have been hit hardest. It is estimated that around 34,000 truck loads of logs will be hauled from these areas to try and eradicate or stop the spread into adjoining stands.

Camped at Wap lake south of Three Valley last week, the army of logging trucks heading to loading sites, and the buzz of wood processors starting at 3 a.m. echoed throughout the narrow valley.

Mountainsides are being torn apart by clear-cuts as contractors build roads to infected timber. It’s a huge boon to the mills, to stockpile all that wood, but at what ecological cost to the remaining timber of cedar, hemlock and spruce. Road building and run off in spring affecting creek and river flows and warming temperatures. And yes, therein is the problem: climate change.

Read more: Salmon Arm politicians urged to declare climate emergency, create action plan

Read more: Eligible B.C. families to receive Climate Credit cash boost

Read more: Letter: Climate emergency needs Salmon Arm’s commitment

There always has been an era of insets attacking our forests, but thanks to a variety of woodpeckers and cold winter temperatures minimizing the risk of beetle attacks, there was a balance in nature. However, starting back to Tweedsmuir Park in 1999, when the first red top pines were discovered, to the vast clear-cuts of the Chilcotin and Interior mountains, our climate has changed to the point where our forests’ trees are vulnerable as they become stressed because of dryer, hotter conditions.

In its peak, the pine beetle came in waves over huge areas of the Interior, then it flew over mountains (seen by pilots in planes) in prevailing winds, landing in Alberta to ravage lodge pole pine there. It also attacked immature pine in plantations as new generation growth for forest companies.

The big question is, will replanting plugs (baby trees, both fir and pine) in clear-cuts survive pine rust and insect attack in the future?

A drive out to Malakwa, or through the Wap to Kingfisher from Three Valley will make a person realize just how devastating the situation is.

Another attacker of domestic trees is an invasion of tussock worms in the Notch Hill area.

On a brighter note, there is a bumper-crop of blueberries and huckleberries for the picking!

Heavens to Murgatroyd, the beetles are winning, but at what cost? It’s a changed world out there.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm projects keep rolling thanks to taxpayers’ early payments

‘Speed hump’ to go on Okanagan Avenue adjacent to Fletcher Park

Sicamous arena upgrade project grows, funding approval needed

An additional $100,000 needed to complete expanded project

Sicamous asks people to use face masks, not police others

Face masks recommended for any indoor public place where physical distancing isn’t possible

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Okanagan COVID-19 case count growth slows

BCCDC data shows a stark contrast between Okanagan-specific numbers released in July and August

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Vernon pedestrian struck dies from injuries

Emergency responders are on scene on Main Street near the CIBC, traffic affected

UPDATE: Fire in Lake Country a “smoke chase”

A water bomber reportedly took off from Penticton and is on the way to Lake Country

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

Esa Carriere was stabbed to death during the Canada Day fireworks in downtown Kelowna in 2018

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Most Read