Dying forests: Beetles gnaw way through millions of acres in Utah, West

A gray-whiskered former fly-fishing guide waded through a horse pasture whacking weeds for his neighbor, the rumbling machine in his hands slicing thistles and sparing a robust tangle of grass and wildflowers, while on mountain ridges all around him, the trees silently died.


Here, along the pine-scented exurban glory of Trail Creek, Lester DuChane and his sparse neighbors are the latest Westerners to watch their green valley turn red and fade to gray as swarms of rice-grain-size beetles eat the Rocky Mountain forest. He cannot figure out why the government never launched an aggressive counterattack against an epidemic, which has swept through neighboring ranges almost since he settled here in 1994.


Sections of Yoho closed for prescribed burn

Parts of Yoho National Park will be closed to hikers and back-country users as a prescribed burn is scheduled to take place on Monday, weather permitting.

The burn area, approximately 2,100 hectares in size, is about six kilometres west of Field, B.C. on the Mount Duchesnay slopes between the Boulder and Ottertail creeks.

The prescribed fire aims to protect the town of Field from the threat of wildfire by reducing forest fuels and creating a firebreak in the Kicking Horse Valley, to cut down the pine beetle habitat and to improve wildlife habitat.

Mine has Princeton booming

Princeton Mayor Randy McLean said the closing of the Similco mine 15 years ago put a malaise on the community, but Copper Mountain has changed that.

“It’s that attitude I talked about, that confidence. We have a community that is so upbeat and positive and it’s thanks to the mine,” said Princeton Mayor Randy McLean. “There is a lot of young people moving here which brings a boost in economic confidence and a different atmosphere, making it a well-rounded community. The mine has brought a real improvement on so many levels.”

And it came just at the right time as the community’s bread and butter forest industry was getting hammered by pine beetle infestation. Just a few years ago Princeton was on top of the list for forest towns in line to receive government assistance. Since Copper Mountain went from rumour to reality, that has changed.

Addressing the ‘crisis in our forests’

More than 90 per cent of the forest land in B.C. is owned by the public, yet most people are not aware of what is going on in our forests and how these forests are managed.

Concerns such as the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic, wildfires, the impacts of climate change and a reduction in government funding have resulted in what some are calling a “crisis in our forests.”

B.C.’s forests are known for producing timber and creating jobs, and this industry has and will continue to be an important aspect of the B.C. economy.