The huckleberries and blueberries on the slopes of the Nicola Valley are hitting their juicy peaks this month, making it prime picking time for the Indian bands up and down the undeveloped stretches that gird the modern Coquihalla Highway running to the B.C. Interior.
Those succulent berries are much more than a sweet treat. They are ripening into a point of conflict between those bands, and companies yearning to develop the valley's tourism potential.
Drive the mountain motorways of the Coquihalla - a spectacular trip in summer, however nerve-wracking in winter - and two things are striking, beyond the spectacular vistas. One is the swaths of dead red pine, the carnage left behind by the pine beetle. And the second is the complete lack of any significant enterprise that can make up for the economic devastation caused by the beetle, and resulting evisceration of the forestry industry.