British Columbia's forests ministry delays pesticide spraying near Cherryville to control western hemlock looper insect, residents who attended protest rally claim victory

VERNON, British Columbia , July 5, 2012 () – Cherryville residents are declaring victory.

The Ministry of Forests has backed away from plans to spray pesticides near Greenbush and Sugar lakes to control the western hemlock looper insect.

“Since diversity and ecosystem health are the first lines of defense against infestations, we would like to see all Ministry of Forests’ management programs shift from particular defensive actions such as spraying, towards integrated health restoration actions such as restoring diversity in the forest ecosystem,” said Huguette Allen, with Bee Safe, a local environmental organization.

“Ecosystem restoration programs bring enormous ecological, social, health and economical benefits. Healthy forests play a crucial role in replenishing oxygen, absorbing carcinogenic pollutants in the air and purifying lakes and rivers.”

Residents rallied in Cherryville Saturday against the possible use of chemical controls and any impact on the environment.

A decision to not use pesticides was announced Tuesday.

“The primary goal of the western hemlock looper spray program was to protect the mature hemlock forests as habitat for the local caribou herds,” said Lorraine Maclauchlan, a foresy entomologist, in a letter to residents.

“The treatment of western hemlock looper by the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is only done to protect wildlife habitat and is not conducted as a measure to protect more economic-focused timber harvesting values.”

Maclauchlan says western hemlock looper trap catches in the Greenbush Lake area have increased significantly in the past couple of years, indicating an outbreak is imminent.

“The defoliation for 2012 was projected to be in the low to moderate range but we were hoping to prevent a full outbreak from occurring by treating this year,” she said.

“Should the defoliation become severe we may reconsider this treatment again at some time in future years.”

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