The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is currently conducting helicopter-logging operations in the Williams Lake area to minimize the spread of Douglas fir beetles on Crown land.
This heli-logging program has recently been expanded to the Chimney Valley in the area west of Dog Creek Road along Chimney Creek (south of Williams Lake). Helicopter flights in this added area are expected to begin on Feb. 14 or Feb. 15, 2018.
Douglas fir beetle populations are 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.
As part of the Williams Lake Beetle Management Unit 2017 Treatment Plan, the helicopter harvesting is being done on steep slopes in the Williams Lake area to remove infested trees. Crews have been working in the South Lakeside, Esler and Fox Mountain areas, and on Slater Mountain (above Mile 168 Road).
Residents can expect to see helicopters in the air during these selective logging operations, but no flights will occur over residential buildings. The aircraft will only be flying during daylight hours and will not be in the air on statutory holidays.
Owners of livestock and pets are advised to take precautions to protect their animals from injuring themselves. Horses in particular can be sensitive to helicopter noise, and may run if startled.
For safety reasons, members of the public should stay away from active harvesting areas. They are also reminded that unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) must not be operated anywhere near the harvesting areas, since doing so can endanger the safety of pilots and workers on the ground.
The ministry is committed to controlling the spread of Douglas fir beetles in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Regional District and limiting their impacts on the mid-term timber supply, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and wildfire management.
- The Williams Lake Timber Supply Area contains 3.24 million hectares of forest, with 1.83 million hectares considered to be available for timber harvesting.
- Douglas fir beetle infestations tend to be cyclical, and the last major outbreak in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Regional District peaked in 2008, covering about 68,550 hectares. The volume of timber killed by the Douglas fir beetle in the Williams Lake Timber Supply Area that year was about 172,534 cubic metres.
- The shallow tunnels etched into the underside of the bark (called “galleries”) are created by the beetle adults and larvae as they feed on the wood of an infested tree.
- According to the ministry’s latest mapping data (based on aerial surveys conducted in the summer of 2017), Douglas fir beetles affected 45,862 hectares in 2017 and 53,311 hectares in 2016 within the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Regional District.
Learn more about Douglas fir beetles, or read a factsheet about managing them on private property: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/forest-health/forest-pests/bark-beetles/douglas-fir-beetle/management