Burned trees and smoke as seen on the Canim Lake fire this summer. File photo.

Taxpayers want beetle infected trees logged

“Our group does not care about the viewscape as we would rather be safe”

A petition with around 200 signatures of concerned taxpayers so far is asking for a preventative emergency measure forest maintenance program to deal with fir beetle infected trees in the South Canim Lake area.

The area was affected by wildfires over the summer.

The letter/petition states there are over 200 infected trees in a one-hectare area, according to an assessment by Canim Lake First Nations forester John Kalmokoff.

Irene McKerlich is organizing the petition and lives in south Canim Lake. She says she volunteered to write the letter after a meeting local residents had.

“It’s our area, we had a fire two kilometres from us. Yeah, we’re concerned. If you look at the mountains and see all the red trees it’s kinda like, you just need a lightning strike right and poof it goes again.”

From her understanding, the province has set money aside to do remedial and clean up after the fires but you need to continue to plan beyond that, she says.

“This is sort of the first attempt. I don’t know where it’s going to go, we’ll see but I’m gonna make sure that I get a proper response.”

She says one thing they’re asking for is to cut a road across so they can have access to these trees to provide access if there is a fire and that it’s also an opportunity to add some trails which could benefit tourism in the area.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of red patches like this all around the province.”

McKerlich says she hopes to have the process finished up in a couple of weeks.

“People get it.”

If you want to sign the petition, outside of tracking down McKerlich, Grace Buse has copies at the Canim Lake Store, says McKerlich.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says she wasn’t aware of the petition yet, but would certainly work on it if they bring it to her.

“They started once again heli-logging in the Williams Lake for the same issue. I worked on that one for quite a while last year.”

The announcement of the second year of logging beetle-affected trees in Willams Lake area was made on Dec. 13 by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

McKerlich says that heli-logging is a solution they’re receptive to.

“Douglas fir beetle populations are currently higher than normal in parts of the Cariboo. The insects normally attack small groups of trees and a significant infestation will weaken and eventually kill a tree over the period of about a year.”

A spokesperson from the Ministry says “the ministry is well aware of the situation of fir beetle in the 100 Mile House Timber Supply Area. We are working closely with licensees in affected areas to monitor and reduce fir beetle populations, where required and feasible. We are engaging and sharing information with industry, as it becomes known to staff in the district, to formulate suppression and/or salvage response strategies.”

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