Over 8,100 hectares have been damaged by spruce beetle in the Lakes timber supply area. That’s a significant increase from 2016, when 1,200 hectares had been damaged, and from the 58 hectares damaged in 2014. (Black Press files)

Spruce beetle infestation nearly doubles in B.C.

Some areas have seen a significant increase in the past year

The spruce beetle, which is native to spruce forests and attacks the inner bark of these trees, continues to be a growing concern in B.C. It is a forest pest similar to the pine beetle which devastated much of the timber supply in B.C.

According to the province’s latest aerial overview survey, the total infested area in B.C. has nearly doubled this year — from 283,083 hectares in 2016 to 501,873 hectares in 2017.

Over 8,100 hectares of forests have been damaged by spruce beetle in the Lakes timber supply area (TSA), a significant increase from 2016 when 1,200 hectares had been damaged, and from the 58 hectares damaged in 2014.

READ MORE: Spruce beetle a growing concern

READ MORE: B.C. on high alert for spruce beetle

While the situation has gotten worse in the Lakes TSA, the Morice TSA has remained fairly stable. Over 2,900 hectares were affected in 2017 — similar to 2014.

The Lakes TSA extends from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the south to the Tildelsy watershed in the north. It includes Burns Lake, Decker Lake, François Lake, Grassy Plains and Danskin.

The Morice TSA extends from Babine Lake in the north to Ootsa and Whitesail Lakes in the south. The main community is Houston, while the remainder of the population lives in smaller communities such as Topley and Granisle.

The situation is much more severe in the Prince George TSA, where 275,108 hectares were affected in 2017 — almost double the 142,837 hectares affected in 2016.

The Prince George TSA stretches from near the Alberta border in the southeast to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the southwest and Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park in the northwest. It includes Prince George, the towns of Vanderhoof and Fort St. James, and several smaller communities such as Fraser Lake.

Bill Miller, chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, says the regional district has been “involved with this situation from early days” and has been engaging with the provincial government on how address the issue.

In addition to the annual aerial overview survey, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development plans to carry out detailed aerial surveys to do a refined aerial detection of infestations for follow-up treatment.

The ministry will also carry out ground surveys to identify spruce beetle populations and provide information for treatments. Other actions planned include encouraging co-operative action with licensees to target infested timber for extraction, as well as using trap trees to absorb beetle populations for removal after the next beetle flight.

Spruce beetle outbreaks have historically lasted up to seven or eight years.

In a report to Smithers council last month, representatives from the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation said they have been checking trees for spruce beetle infestations. They have so far found only a handful of trees to be affected.

Wetzin’kwa is a for-profit corporation is owned by the Town of Smithers and Village of Telkwa. Over $1.5 million in community grants of up to $10,000 for arts and culture, recreation, conservation, social services, and community economic development have been given out. Another $650,000 in stakeholder donations has been given since tenure operations began 10 years ago.

– With files from Chris Gareau.

Just Posted

All that jazz

Smithers Secondary show they have all that jazz with their performance of Chicago.

Minerals North to draw hundreds

This is second time Houston has hosted northern mining industry.

NWCC gets green light for name change

The name Coast Mountain College in effect as of June 18

Tree branch damages VIA Rail train between Prince Rupert and Prince George

Passenger train has delayed the scheduled route on April 22

Students want Smithers to take on plastic bag problem

After a survey that had 430 responses, Hannah Pow and Jessica Walton laid out a plan.

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

B.C. bill aims to keep Indigenous kids in communities, out of care

Changes to Child, Family and Community Service Act could connect MCFD, Indigenous communities

Condo contract rules target B.C. property flippers

Regulations to prevent property transfer tax evasion

Most Read