Major logging operations
I was amazed at the size of the forests in BC, as they covered the hillsides of almost every mountain we saw on our trip and as they stretched off into the distance during hour after hour of driving. BC has a good portion of Canada’s forests, which comprise more than a third of the world’s boreal forest and a tenth of the total world forest cover. Forests which can be logged for timber products make up about 25% of Canada’s land mass.
During our exploration drive along the Skeena River from Terrace toward Prince Rupert on the Pacific coast, we detoured off the highway to explore some local rivers and waterfall sites. In those cases, we were travelling on logging roads that wind up off the highway and into the mountains as the forestry companies seek out new timber for the markets. There is quite a lot of opposition to these roads slicing through the forests and also to the resulting ‘clearcut’ areas where everything is cut down for either shipment to the mills with the leftover cuttings piled into large heaps. This photo shows one of the mountainside forests towering above Lakelse Lake, with its center section having been clearcut part-way up the slope. Subsequent to the clearcut, a strong wind flow along the valley blew unopposed across this bare stretch of land and caused a ‘blowdown’ jumble of the now more exposed trees, visible at the left side of the clearcut.
A real threat to the forests is the mountain pine beetle infestation which became a serious problem a few years ago as global temperatures continue to rise, as summarized on the internet: "Mountain pine beetles are small, cylindrical insects that attack lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine and white pine trees from mid-July to mid-August. The beetles kill mature trees by laying eggs under the bark. When the eggs hatch, the larvae live off the layer beneath the bark and eventually cut off the tree’s supply of nutrients." Forest fires are becoming more severe with the number of dead trees and this summer fires to the south in the Kamloops area sent smoke as far east as Regina, Saskatchewan - 1400 km distant. People had to shut their windows in many Alberta communities until the smoke cleared within a day or so.