Clearing the Way after Mountain Pine Beetle

The removal of Mountain Pine Beetle-killed trees from areas along the right of way on highways and other routes is now part of our annual project regime. This year approximately 40 kilometres of roadway along Highway 16 near Smithers BC were identified as having Mountain Pine Beetle-killed trees.

Yellowhead Highway in Smithers
Scene of the Mountain Pine Beetle Crime

Local hired equipment and hand fallers, hired to complete the work through the Ministry’s day labour program target and cut down identified dead and diseased trees. Trees are removed by machine brushing, hand falling or machine falling, depending on the situation of the tree. If a tree is easy to get to, maintenance crews will work with available machinery to pull them down. However, if a tree is a little harder to reach, hand falling is required.

Highway 16
Trucking by Some Damaged Trees

You might have noticed the spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle throughout the areas of our province which are heavily populated with pine trees. Red swaths of colour where there once was green, followed by stands of trees that look like the remnants of a forest fire. Affected trees pass through a variety of stages once they are infected with the bug. First, the needles of the pine trees turn red and then brown, before they eventually fall off the tree. When the tree reaches this stage of the disease, it is completely dead. Branches are susceptible to wind and easily broken off. If the tree is exposed along a roadside, high wind could bring the entire root system up and cause the tree to fall on the road, obstructing traffic and endangering motorists.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is constantly looking for ways to control the risk of potential hazards along our roadways and brushing and clearing these trees is just one way we do that. Although the Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation in BC is slowing over time, we are looking down the road and planting with the future in mind. By using a variety of controllable plants along our highways, we hope to reduce the impact that future infestations could have.


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