Dry conditions can harden the soil, making it harder to plant trees and giving less moisture to the seedlings, says forestry service company owner Earl Hughes, of Waterside Ventures, in Burns Lake. (Black Press Media file photo)

Dry soil a challenge for treeplanters, seedlings

Dry conditions are presenting challenges for the reforestation work of dozens of treeplanters working in the Burns Lake region in May.

“It’s drier than normal this year. Usually we get more rain,” as Earl Hughes, owner of forestry service company Waterside Ventures told Lakes District News.

“If it stays dry the soils compact and it’s harder to put the shovel in the ground. It’s not too bad right now because we still have moisture from the winter.”

The reforestation effort in the Nadina District will see more than 16 million seedlings planted this year, said Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) spokesperson Dawn Makarowski.

Companies like Waterside Ventures will plant about 12 million, and BC Timber Sales around 4 million.

For the May-June contract period, Hughes’ company of 50-60 planters is scheduled to plant 3 million trees, mostly pine and spruce and some fir and larch.

Few deciduous seedlings will be planted this season, despite their role as natural firebreaks, and most Forest Stewardship Plans (FSP) for the Nadina District don’t call for the planting of deciduous species, Makarowski said.

“However, landscape level plans are being developed to address fire mitigation. Once those plans are developed in collaboration with the BC Wildfire Service, the FSP would be amended to incorporate the planting of deciduous species,” she added.

Hughes hopes the weather improves both for the sake of the tree seedlings and his staff.

“Survival of the seedlings will be tough without moisture. It affects the production too because if it gets hot people don’t want to plant.”

The planting blocks of Westside Ventures include areas in Topley and the west and south sides of Francois Lake.

Though the west side of Francois Lake was hit hard in last summer’s wildfires, Hughes’ blocks aren’t in those areas.

“Generally they wait until the second year after fires. It can happen where there are diseases and caterpillars that can eat the seedlings. We plant trees that were logged within two years or the following year.”

Other than those insect risks – particularly from the larvae of adult army cutworm moths – wildfires don’t affect the ability to put trees in the ground. In fact, before planting many areas are subjected to prescribed burning to remove organic material and slash and prepare it for reforestation.

However, “if wildfire intensity is very high, it can reduce the layer of organic material that protects the top of the soil, which also provides nutrients to seedlings,” Makarowski said.

With Waterside Ventures, tree prices range from 16 cents to 20-29 cents per tree, depending on the type of ground.

In favourable weather and good land conditions Hughes’ planters can put 2,000-3,000 trees into the ground in one day.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Just Posted

RedRover talks animal care

Nicole Forsyth, Executive Director of RedRover, spoke in the Burns Lake Public… Continue reading

Alternative arts fest at LDSS

Lakes District Secondary School held its Alternative Arts Festival on May 28.… Continue reading

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

RDBN opts to join entrepreneur immigration pilot scheme

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) will back a candidate under the… Continue reading

Ultrasound for Burns Lake hospital possible, Northern Health says

Northern Health is considering the possibility of bringing ultrasound services to the… Continue reading

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read