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October 27, 2017 8:39 pm

SB Summit Produces Team Approach to Battling the Pest

Friday, October 21, 2016 @ 5:58 AM

Prince George, B.C.- Two days of focus  on  the Spruce Beetle epidemic have  produced  important connections  says Heather Wiebe, resource manager in the Mackenzie Natural Resource District and Spruce Beetle Manager. 

“We have the  rock stars of entomologists,  combined with the people who are on the front line  in this outbreak.”    She says the topics covered over the two days  “wouldn’t  normally come up until  you make the room for that conversation to happen.”

The summit also linked those who have  previous experience in dealing with  a spruce beetle epidemic and those who are seeing this  kind of outbreak for the first time “They are asking  questions  that might seem a bit risky, but are not  afraid to ask them, so that, to me is the value of what we are doing.”

One hundred and 15  people attended the  two day summit,   surpassing expectations  says Wiebe “This was word of mouth, this was something we thought innately was important to us, but we didn’t realize how important it was to everyone else as well.”

Wiebe says the  two day session has also helped to identify other areas where the spruce beetle has been  having  an impact, but  the  aerial surveys haven’t yet detected the  damage because of the delay between the attack and the tree’s change in colour. ” Having those conversations now, is giving me hope that we can snuff out those (beetle) populations because that’s when trap trees are so effective.”

From the blue stain on the wood, to discolouration of the trees , there are many similar  characteristics between the spruce beetle damage and that of the mountain pine beetle “I think there is a lot of ‘beetle fatigue’ out there” says Wiebe,  “when you  say ‘beetles’,  their shoulders drop, their heads drop and they say ‘not another beetle’,  but it’s the differences we’re focusing on.  These beetles like those downed trees and  because they like them, we can do things like conventional trap trees  because  those conventional trap trees are working like sponges in the natural environment.   They  don’t travel the same ( as Mountain Pine Beetle)  either,  I call  them  little tanks with wings because they are  heavier and they are lazy.  As soon as they find that next susceptible host,  that’s where  they’re going, so it helps to keep that population contained.”

She says a positive is that Spruce trees  are mixed among other  species “But what is not in  our favour  is time.  They (the beetles) are  multiplying quickly,  not only on a two year life cycle, but  one year as well.  They are easily mobilized going from small diameter  to large diameter, and they are going into areas they haven’t been  in decades so the roads aren’t  there, the bridges aren’t there.”

Wiebe says there is a positive feel  coming from the summit,  “It feels very different,  it feels very much together in a team  approach, knowing that everyone has different values that they want out of  a healthy forest.  Some people at el looking for  habitat, others are looking at merchantability, and we are just finding that balance.”


We had one of biggest outbreaks of Spruce Beetles in the Bowron River area in the 1980’s. There is all kinds of documented information on how this outbreak was dealt with, and the results of those endeavors.

It seems like we are trying to re invent the wheel. We know all we need to know about the spruce beetle. What we need is action by the Government and lumber corporations to deal with the problem.

If you want to see how the outbreak in the 80’s was dealt with I suggest you read the following.

**The Upper Bowron Spruce Beetle Outbreak: A case history by Russ Cozens M.F. (UBC 84)

Also the **Forest Practices Code Bark Beetle Guide Book**.

So the question is. Who is leading the charge against this latest outbreak, and what can we expect to be done in the immediate future.

This is a serious problem, and coming on top of the Pine Beetle infestation, we need to deal with it NOW.

All the proposed solutions should also consider the impact on the other inhabitants of the forest.

Our area has seen a steep decline in moose numbers. The July 2016 Gorley report on restoring moose populations points to the pine beetle logging as being a major contributing factor for the decline. Both increased access (road building) and loss of suitable habitat, at least in the short term have resulted dwindling moose populations.

All spruce beetle management plans should balance harvesting and maintaining merchantable forest stands and conserving, or enhancing forest values for wildlife. By the way, they don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive options.

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