Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes is very concerned about the current spread of spruce beetle in the Northern Interior.
Noting she has been talking to several groups, including forestry and First Nations, the MLA says there is a significant fear the spruce beetle march is very much like the pine beetle invasion.
British Columbia communities are still trying to recover from the damage that was caused by that little insect with the voracious appetite.
“It has an epicentre right now, but they are studying it … we have to become more proactive.
“What have we learned from the pine beetle?”
Oakes notes the epicentre for the pine beetle showed up in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and the government of the day decided to study it rather than go on the offensive.
Instead of going in and working with partners to nip it in the bud, they waited, and the pine beetle issue quickly became a full-blown epidemic.
She says the government cannot wait and study the spruce beetle epidemic because it’s growing exponentially – 50 per cent cumulatively per year.
“It grew significantly last year because of our weather pattern. It had a huge increase and moved up into the Peace River, and it’s just about at the boundary of the Quesnel Timber Supply area.
“The spruce beetle [invasion must be stopped] because that’s hitting all of our mid-term timber supply.”
She adds it isn’t just forestry companies raising the alarm. It’s a significant issue, because the First Nations are also raising it.
“We have to do more than just research it.
“Once it explodes into our forests like the pine beetle, which was too big to ever manage….”
There are significant differences between spruce and pine beetle damage.
Pine beetle damaged trees were marketable for at about 10 years after the attack, but beetle-killed spruce disintegrates in three to four years.
Furthermore, spruce trees can take up to 13-15 months before they show distress.
Oakes says harvesting spruce to get to the sawmills before it becomes wildfire fuel is more difficult and expensive because it’s in mountainous terrain.
“B.C. Timber Sales is going to have to address how it will manage it.”