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Selective Weeding Used in Beetle Salvage Project

By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use. 

Even from the pespective of a helicopter it's hard to find and follow the narrow trails used to skid salvaged mountain pine beetle wood to the shores of Euchu Lake. And that's just the way Adina Timber planned it. 

The Houston, BC-based log harvesting contractor performs a unique stewardship role for the provincial Ministry of Forests across an isolated swathe of country abutting Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in west-central BC. 

The Entiako management unit is a proposed protected area identified through a public stakeholder review process. It provides winter range for caribou and much less desirably has become prime habitat for the mountain pine beetle. 

Dave Zielke of Adina Timber has been familiar with the area for years. As its steward, he tries to mimic natural disturbance in the design and transport of bug-killed and damaged wood. It's a caring process. "We're not clear-cutting. We're selectively weeding," says Zielke. 

The ministry's Lakes Forest District has been pursuing a small-scale log salvage program in pockets throughout its TSA. It's a control method to extract value from a resource at risk and help contain the beetle's march. The stewardship arrangement evolved from that. 

November images "It's a timber sale really, but it's Adina Timber's responsibility to work up front," explains Bob Murray, the Forest Service's district manager in Bums Lake. That means taking charge of all operational aspects, including identifying trees to harvest, developing a harvesting plan, presenting it to the forest service for approval, conducting it and doing work like beetle probes and setting pheremone traps. 

Zielke salvage-logged in the area under the ministrv's small business program before the two-year stewardship agreement began in the summer of 1997. 

"Dave has a reputation for doing a good job. It's an isolated area that he knows well. There's a high level of trust between us and the environmental folks concerned about the Entiako winter range that he does an excellent job," says Murray. 

The arrangement has worked well. "I like to think we've developed some different methods and machine use in our selective loging," says Zielke. "We identify infected trees and rather than landings we cut, process and bunch on the stump and skid. In the last two years we've proven we can snip and skid." 

Some of those skids are a remarkable five km in length, snaking through the bush on narrow, four-metre-wide trails. It's tight, careful harvesting that puts a premium on good machine operators. 

Equipment used included a Madill 3200 buncher with a Pierce harvester head. The machine's boom and stick design allow it to operate within the confines of an impressive 19 swath.  A rubber-tired JD 748, a 667F and 668F and this last summer a Cat D5 swing boom have all been used in phases of the salvage operation. At the lakeshore logs are boomed and towed to a loadout facility. Adina salvaged about 6,000 M3 in 1997. 

"I feel good about it. I like to think we use good forest practices,"says Zielke. The stewardship agreement runs to November, 1998. By then a decision is expected on how the area will be managed in the future. 

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