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Dying trees in Salmon Arm trail system on city's radar

Drought, bouts of extreme heat can lead to conditions seen in Pileated Woods
The City of Salmon Arm is looking into a management strategy for dying trees in the Pileated Woods trail system.

Concerns around dead or dying trees in a Salmon Arm trail system are being looked at by the city. 

City staff confirmed the Pileated Woods trail system, located east of 5th Street SE between Auto Road and Old Auto Road, is on their radar. The needles of many trees in the park have turned reddish brown, a sign of disease and/or environmental stressors that may include bouts of extreme heat and drought. 

"The City is aware of the trees within pileated woods and are actively trying to gather information and facts to which an educated decision can be made on a proper management strategy," said city roads and parks manager Darin Gerow. 

Shuswap Trail Alliance executive director Jen Bellhouse said hers and city staff viewed the trail system and it has been flagged as a concern. 

"I believe that the city is looking at forming a group of individuals that would be able to address the situation," offered Bellhouse. 

Trees in a similar state have been noted on Mount Ida. 

B.C.'s forest ministry, which has a forest pathologist in Kamloops, said it is typical to see tree mortality occur for several years after a summer of extreme heat and drought as was experienced in 2023. A sign of this is when the needles of the trees fade in colour and gradually turn red.

"The trees can die directly from the drought itself or, being compromised by the drought succumb to insect infestations in subsequent years," said the ministry. "This type of post drought mortality is natural and is usually localized to individual trees or small clumps within a forest. The remaining stand or forest typically recovers."

Shuswap resident Nicole Jeans Williams, a former forest health consultant and wood product pest management specialist, said the recent tree mortality in Pileated Woods appears to be the result of both Douglas-fir and woodboring beetles such as buprestid and cerambycid beetles.

"These large wood-boring species are not typically primary tree killers, but due to recent drought and stress conditions this phenomenon is being seen more frequently on fir (also ponderosa) throughout Southern B.C. and as far as the south western U.S., usually on dry slopes or on edges of openings or ROWs, and at low elevations," explained Williams via email. "Douglas-fir beetle continues to cause spotty mortality on the slopes of Mount Ida and South Canoe. Wood borer mortality can often be distinguished from DFB by large scale bark removal by woodpeckers because the woodborer larvae are quite large and juicy.”



Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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