Beetle-kill forest in city’s watershed targeted for proposed dead timber salvage
Part of the city’s watershed is in the cross hairs for logging as one of the region’s largest lumber companies intends to salvage dead timber in order to suppress a Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation just west of the city.
Kalesnikoff Lumber Company in Thrums is seeking review and comment from the community on a proposed cutting permit (CP) application to harvest timber in the Selous Creek area near Nelson.
The wood needs to be removed in order to safeguard the city’s secondary drinking water source, said Gerald Cordeiro, development supervisor of Kalesnikoff Lumber Company Ltd. (KLC).
The company has completed work on four proposed cut blocks, with the intent of salvaging dead timber and to suppress the beetle population by harvesting currently infested timber.
“(T)his area is experiencing a significant Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation,” he said. “Due to the life cycle of the beetles it is imperative that all infested timber be removed and milled prior to next year’s beetle flight, which may occur as early as the end of April.”
Last week Kalesnikoff gave a presentation to city council on the beetle danger in the watershed, seeking its view on the operation due to its proximity to Nelson.
However, the city is already on board with the logging operation, having just applied — through the regional district — to the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. for its November intake to fund a $37,300 prescription in Selous Creek.
The proposed landscape operational fuel treatment would reduce the risk of wildfire on a broader, linear level to protect the city by tying smaller, previously treated areas together, and creating a large new treatment area.
The potential risk to drinking water is an issue with a number of communities and Mayor Deb Kozak and the city is responsible for the water in the community.
“If wildfires occur in a watershed, water sources are dramatically negatively affected,” Kozak said. “We are responsible for providing clean water to our residents. It is a good thing to have (beetle killed wood removed.”
However, watersheds can be severely damaged by logging if not done selectively, she continued.
“This method of logging is more expensive, but critical to maintaining clean and sufficient water sources,” Kozak said. “Negative impacts include increased sedimentation which in turn affects water quality and necessitates expensive water treatment infrastructure that impacts residents and local governments.”
Normally the visual quality objective (VQO) of retention prohibits any large-scale harvest in a place like the Selous Community Watershed, which is part of Nelson’s watershed along with Anderson and Five Mile Creek.
But an application will be made to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) to temporarily exceed the VQO due to the forest health concern.
However, because portions of the proposed harvest areas fall within the community watershed, additional professional assessments will be done to “ensure the water resource will not be adversely affected,” said Cordeiro.
Beetles, beetles everywhere
The problem in the watershed was first noticed in the Selous Creek area in the summer of 2016 by Kalesnikoff staff members, with FLNRO consulted and a suppression strategy developed by KLC.
Ministry overview flights in 2016 pointed toward beetle-killed forest occurring in new areas where stands had not previously been infested, said Cordeiro, with 2017 flights indicating roughly a threefold increase in populations over 2016 levels.
He said the typical management tools include: trap trees; funnel traps; fall and burn; baiting; and salvage/sanitation harvest.
Tread lightly in the watershed
“Due to the myriad of forest values in this area the planning process took time and care to ensure those values were adequately balanced with the forest health risk,” said Cordeiro.
Some of the most difficult considerations made concerning the Selous Creek Community Watershed. As a result, a full hydro-geomorphic assessment was commissioned.
“First drafts indicate that Selous Creek has a very stable channel and that our proposed activities will not increase the risk of damaging floods or alterations to flow timing (low elevation, low equivalent clear cut area),” he said in his presentation to council.
Cordeiro explained that the area to the north of Selous Creek falls mainly within a retention polygon, meaning visible alterations to the landscape are not generally permitted to exceed one per cent of the visible landform. An exemption will be required to harvest in this area.
The logging aim is fire hazard mitigation. Kalesnikoff and the regional district co-applied for funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to write prescriptions for hazard mitigation over a large portion of the area. This application was not funded.
The intent is to re-apply, however this option will not allow for action to be taken in time before the beetles fly again in the spring of 2018.
“Additionally, certain aspects of the currently utilized model of fire hazard mitigation do not mesh well with Douglas-fir beetle management,” said Cordeiro in his presentation to council.
Several procedures will be used to reduce the beetle’s impact:
Trap Tree Program
In the early spring of 2017, KLC felled trap trees in a number of locations in the Selous Creek area. Those trees were subsequently infested and will be milled.
Prior to the 2017 flight, baits were set in the site of the largest infestation. This has concentrated the beetles in an area which gives relatively easy access to conventional logging equipment. The baited area is also out of view and the resultant opening will not alter the visible landscape
Sanitation and Salvage Harvest
CP’s 69 and 599 will remove the known infestations. Heavily attacked areas will be harvested and the wood milled prior to the beetle flight of 2018. Small areas of susceptible timber will be left to perform a second round of trap trees and baiting.
Fall and Burn Trap Trees
FLNRO has felled trap trees in the Ward Creek area where terrain hazard was a considerable risk. These trees will be burned to eliminate the concentrated insect populations in them.
Timely and complete burning of all slash, continued detection and monitoring, funnel traps and the creation of an FESBC-funded fire hazard mitigation plan.
Additional documents and information will be posted to Kalesnikoff’s website at: http://www.kalesnikoff.com/public-stakeholder-engagement/), and more information will continue to be posted as it comes available, such as the professional watershed assessment report and terrain stability assessments.
People can submit questions and comments to Kalesnikoff’s referral email, email@example.com.