A rare coalition of ranchers, hunters, homesteaders and native bands has stalled plans to clear cut vast tracts of pine-beetle-infested forest in B.C.’s Chilcotin region.
A spokesman for Carrier Lumber, which has provincial stumpage rights to an area about half the size of Vancouver Island, said this week that growing anger from local residents has forced the company to put its logging plans on hold.
The B.C. Forests Ministry estimates that the mountain pine beetle has infested 26 million cubic metres of lodgepole pine in the Central Interior with a potential market value of $70-million.
The ministry hopes to “salvage” five million cubic metres of beetle-infested forest in the West Chilcotin over the next eight years.
Echoing the sentiments of many area residents, long-time guide and outfitter Mike McDonough said logging will change the Chilcotin’s unique way of life forever.
However, Forests Minister Tom Waterland dismissed concerns about the ecological impact, saying “the environment will be damaged much more severely by the continued spread of the bug.”
Flash forward: Since 1999, the mountain pine beetle has killed about 675 million cubic metres of timber in B.C., affecting an area about four times the size of Vancouver Island.