The great lie in this province is that the current state of beetle infestation was ‘unavoidable’ and that the beetle’s rise was from many pockets from around B.C. This is simply untrue.
The Pine Beetle had a great incubator: Tweedsmuir Park. Tweedsmuir Park was home to the largest and oldest pine forest in North America, and it is also the biggest provincial park in B.C. that happens to sit right near the heart.
Pine Beetle was first discovered there (by my dad, no less) in around 1994-1996. I was young, but I remember my dad, who worked for the Ministry of Forests, being granted a permit from the Parks branch in 1994 to do a massive controlled burn of a huge area of blown down trees that was making it difficult for wildlife to move and survive.
t was soon after this burn that my dad, flying in a helicopter, discovered a patch of beetle kill pine trees. Winters were getting warmer already, this we knew and the trees were old growth and very susceptible to infestation.
With the warmer winters, the area wasn’t getting the cold snaps needed to control the beetles, not only that, but the Province was mandated by the Parks branch to protect such areas from forest fires, so if and when a fire would start, it would be immediately put out.
My dad was a Lorax, he fought for the future of our forests, however, there were many people who scoffed at him. He wanted to try at first a bit of heli-logging, to remove this small patch of infected trees to protect the larger mass. But when the Parks branch made its voice known, it and the people told him no.
When the mass grew so big as to make any attempt at removal impossible, he asked for permission to burn; he was told no. Years later he was given permission to burn, but by then the climate had changed and the summers were far too wet.
He tried two years in a row, but the fires never took. So, the inevitable happened, the great incubator inside Tweedsmuir park burst its seams and billions upon billions of pine beetles descended upon our forests like a plague of the Bible.
Where were your voices back in 1994-1996 when this devastation could have been avoided? The voices were against all reason. They opted to ‘Protect the sanctity of Tweedsmuir Park’ and, in the meantime, devastated not only the park, but a massive swath of forest in the heart of our province.
You think clear cutting is particularly devastating? Tell that to the trees who succumbed to the beetle in an area that few people ever tread. And when I say devastated, I mean DEVASTATED; nothing compares to the sight of a plantation of 4-inch diameter trees being completely wiped out because the beetles are starving for a place to nest. Or the sound of a forest where the only creature stirring is a wood pecker because all squirrels and other sorts of creatures have moved on for lack of food.
Where were your “Lorax’s”? Sitting at home shouting “protect our forests!!” while the very protection you sought, brought their destruction.