Andru McCrackenBy Andru McCracken

This week we learned that Carrier Lumber will not aerially spray broadleaf herbicide in the Robson Valley. The CEO of Carrier pointed to letters from our community as being a driver in that decision.

This newspaper has never been easy on Carrier Lumber. I would like to acknowledge their decision to stop spraying the pesticide glyphosate aerially, to use ground application judiciously, and to use manual brushing as much as possible.

This is huge.

Carrier is the only major licensee in the valley; their decision will help us endure long term.

More broadleaf trees and shrubs mean better dining for moose and deer. Advocates say leafy trees help with biodiversity. It will be better going for hunters.

Less spraying means less impact on our water supply (many have made a link between glyphosate and human ailments including cancer although we have not treated that issue at length in the newspaper as of yet). Critically, more leafy trees on the landscape means more fuel breaks.

This move will help protect our communities from fire.

At exactly the same time stands of lodgepole pine are most flammable, aspen and birch are full of sap and least likely to catch fire.

Activist James Steidle of Stop the Spray BC has lauded aspen’s role in keeping forest cool, by reflecting sunlight in peak seasons and creating shade. He believes a deciduous forest of aspen and birch plays a role in slowing climate change.

On many fronts, this is an important victory.

But letter writers cannot sit on their laurels.

Carrier has asked for help to change the regulations requiring them to destroy the leafy competitors of conifers. Without changing the actual laws and the way the Province views the forest, the three year armistice is meaningless.

Even if Carrier manually removed leafy trees and shrubs to meet the provincial standard, we’d face the same fire risk, the same overheating forests.

Contiguous stands of lodgepole pine and other conifers allow wildfire to spread”¦ like wildfire.

It is the provincial government’s view that decimating aspen stands and other broadleaf vegetation makes more money for the province long term. In the face of massive forest fires, this is demonstrably false. Unfathomable amounts of forest are going up in flames, in our own backyard 10,000 hectares of forest burned unabated a season ago. This is, in part, thanks to the absence of natural forest fire breaks, aspen, birch and other non-merchantable species.

Carrier is going to play ball for three years. There is a short term reward to them of not having to pay for spraying, but it comes with both future risk and expensive new commitments to keep up to forest standards. If the Province doesn’t change regulations and insists that companies continue to decimate broadleaf species, Carrier is in trouble and so are we.

Now friends, is the time to get active and to lobby the Province to stop this practice of demolishing safeguards against fire, a practice that in many places still leads to the widespread use of herbicides.