Douglas fir trees in Salmon Arm face attack from bark beetle

Online pamphlet can help residents learn how to protect their trees

The Douglas-fir beetle makes this kind of damage under the bark of fir trees. (Government of B.C. image)

Douglas fir trees in Salmon Arm are under attack.

In a letter dated April 27, resident Brenda Dyck wrote to Salmon Arm Council regarding the increasing numbers of trees the Douglas fir bark beetle has attacked or is attacking in the area.

A registered forest technologist, Dyck pointed out that most mature conifers in yards and greenways within the city limits are Douglas Fir.

“While small endemic populations of this beetle are common in the area, increased attack usually results in death of mature trees. In residential areas this can present costly and dangerous removal, pose a safety hazard and/or fire hazard if left standing, not to mention trauma for folks who value mature landscaping within yards and greenways…,” she wrote.

“I know the beetles are boring away at trees along, for instance, 20th Ave. NE to Highway #1 and up along 30th St. NE as I’m writing this letter.”

She also said her family has seen fir bark beetle damage spreading on Crown land on the east side of Mount Ida, bordering on city limits and local farms.

Read more: 2019 – Douglas-fir beetle infestation is a provincial crisis: B.C. expert

Read more: Shuswap residents urged to ensure their yard isn’t what spreads a wildfire

Dyck said there are pheromones that can be placed on trees to deter the beetle from attacking. She suggested the city provide information and possibly even the pheromone repellents to the public.

B.C’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development offers educational material such as ‘A Guide to Managing Douglas-fir Beetles on Private Property.

In a follow-up conversation on May 20, Dyck said the bulk of the beetles have already taken flight, which they usually do depending on temperatures in mid- to late-April. They head off to find preferred trees but a lesser flight could take place in July.

Nicole Jeans-Williams, the proprietor of ForHealth Consulting in Salmon Arm, is a forest pest management consultant who has worked in the field of bark beetle pheromones.

When the forest district was still in Salmon Arm, she worked on what she describes as a huge fir-beetle trapping project following the Silver Creek fire of 1998. The purpose was to protect standing fir that was still green but had been scarred by fire.

She said the destruction of the fir beetle can be now be seen in several places in the Shuswap.

“If you’re looking up from your boat in Blind Bay or Sunnybrae or out towards Sicamous along that stretch, you will see patches of red trees; at this time of year it’s most likely fir beetle. That would have been trees that were attacked last season.”

Read more: 2019 – B.C. forests ministry tracks Douglas fir beetle outbreak

Read more: Taking a stand against Douglas-fir beetle in Shuswap’s South Canoe trails

Along with adding the pheromone packets to trees before the beetles take flight, other protections include cleaning up blow-downs and making sure you’re not bringing fresh or recently killed firewood onto your property.

“A green downed tree is very attractive to the beetles,” she said.

In Salmon Arm, she estimated the beetles have been flying since early May so the pheromone packets won’t be as effective.

While fir beetles have always been present in Salmon Arm and the Shuswap, they tend to take advantage of the years when there is drought, fire-scarred trees or wind throw, Jeans-Williams said.

“I think we’re seeing a combination of all three.”

Coun. Tim Lavery has been following the initiatives to reduce wildfire fuels in and around Salmon Arm for city council. He will be reporting back in reference to suggestions in Dyck’s letter, probably at council’s Monday, May 25 meeting.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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