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Problems with beetle infestation in city’s Selous Creek watershed being brought under control: Kalesnikoff

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 30th, 2019

The drones are coming.

Big brother will be watching the development and containment of the Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation in the Selous Creek area south of the city, and the key will be using remote control aerial technology to do so.

Kalesnikoff Forest Products has been and continues to be the watchdog on the forest block and watershed that serves one of the city’s main sources of water — Selous Creek — which had been given a clean bill of health up until 2016.

In his presentation Monday night to city council on the project to save the source, Kalesnikoff’s forest development manager Gerald Cordeiro said that this year Kalesnikoff staff discovered an extensive Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation in the Selous Creek area. 

A subsequent suppression plan employed several management techniques to control the beetle’s spread and the fight began.

After an initial harvest of beetle-killed trees — and some small areas of salvage added “as we detected additional infestation sites” — the area showed some improvement and risk to the city’s water source abated.

The West Kootenay-based forestry company removed “stressed out,” dead and dying Douglas fir timbers, eliminating a “magnet” for the beetle.

“The good news story is most parts of the watershed are not as (threatened) as other areas,” he said.

Those other areas of a few dead trees were evident in 2018 Google satellite imagery as a result that those infest sites were not accessible (Ward Creek, Wee Selous Creek) in the initial pass.

“(They) still pose some level of threat for the population to re-establish,” Cordeiro explained to council during the committee-of-the-whole meeting. “But we did capture what we thought was the majority of the infestation with our cutting permit.”

Ministry of Forests traps were still yielding significant insect numbers in 2018 in the region in the untreated areas. But Cordeiro said the situation in the region and the southern half of the province was deteriorating rapidly and is a major problem.

“Our success story in Selous is tempered by the fact we are kind of on the edge of a major Douglas fir beetle infestation,” he said. “That is the reality we are in.”

The work on protecting the watershed will continue, Cordeiro explained, with field checking of block edges for beetle activity and windthrow. That area will be monitored using drone photo capture and from available view points.

“Field crews conducting work for fuel reduction treatments will look for infest sites,” he said. “You really have to get on the ground and cover the ground and see the attack. So it’s still a bit of a challenge.”

As well, Kalesnikoff will continue to liaise with provincial ministry staff regarding beetle capture numbers and ministry forest health data.

Cordeiro said the situation in Selous Creek and other sensitive areas has become the main impetus behind the work the company carries out.

“Kalesnikoff is prioritizing forest health and wildfire risk reduction as the two main criteria for new cutting permits,” he said.

Negotiations have begun with private forest landowners edging much of the city to further reduce the beetle-killed timber, said Cordeiro, with fuel reduction proposals in the works.

“They know we have a bit of an issue,” he said.

Coun. Jesse Woodward wondered what the focus of the company would be moving forward when the main species of harvest for forestry companies was the endangered and much maligned Douglas fir.

Cordeiro said the company was looking to certify other species of timber such as hemlock in order to alleviate the demand on Douglas fir.

“We are trying to manage better in the areas we can control,” he said.


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