FEATURED COMMENT – Huge clearcuts allowed the pine beetle to multiply

(Image: BC Govt)

Re: Gregory Murray, ‘Where were all the Lorax’s when pine beetle exploded?’

Thank you Mr Murray for your article.

You are absolutely correct in stating that the beetle started in Tweedsmuir and got out of control through the shortsightedness of the parks branch. But that is not the whole story. Huge clearcuts and mono culture forrests allowed the beetle to quadruple its normal distance of spread, which would have been (without heavy winds) around 100 meters.

With these massive clearcuts the beetle was able to move the entire length of the clearcut and infest the forest beyond. When the winter proved to warm to control it, it spread further into the forest where it was eventually logged (ie clearcut) and due to the logging and long distance transportation to centralized mills the beattle was spread to almost every corner of the province by the logging trucks and the equipment that was also moved around.

The early maps of infestation showed fingers of infestation following the roads and highways throughout the province. The trees were unpeeled whole logs and carried them far and wide. Maybe even into Alberta.

Had the forest industry simply cut the whole logs into square “deals” (ie. a squared timber with no bark. This was a historic practice and cut down on the amount of unusable wood that had to be moved out of the forest). The bug may have been less invasive and less damaging.

Having said that, presession is a normal part of forest ecology. This was not the only or even the first pine beetle attack in B.C.

The country was equally devastated back around the turn of the last century and it will happen again if we continue the same practices and do nothing about global warming.

I was most upset when I saw industry, with the help of the forestbranch continue to cut “denim” pine. They didn’t know or care that even a dead forest has enough value to maintain much of the wild life within its limits. That value runs about 65 per cent of a living forest. Through refugia shade (to keep the soil cooler), thus maintaining much of the biota of the forest floor alive and ready for new growth.

I went to the Canim Lake forest surround a few years ago and found a living, vibrant forest, a mixed forest even with all the pine dead. There was no better argument for mixed forest and selective, light mechanical logging practices. Even horse logging on a large scale would benefit the forests ,employ more loggers here and fewer equipment companies in China or Japan.

I would be happy to go on but you get the idea. It was to a large extent “our fault.”


About Mel Rothenburger (5782 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on FEATURED COMMENT – Huge clearcuts allowed the pine beetle to multiply

  1. Thanks to both Gregory Murray and Tony Brummel for their dialogue on the latest mountain pine beetle outbreak. I too, felt that there was more to the story. First Nations people have always known that the pine beetle is part of the forest life cycle, and traditional landscape management practices -which include prescribed burning – contributed to maintaining forest health over centuries before contact. Ecological diversity, not monoculture tree “plantations”, is the key to a sustainabe future.

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