After the infamous December windstorm blew through the area, the damage is still being assessed and some of it is in North Cowichan’s Municipal Forest Reserve.

Forest engineers are assessing the blown down timber and are expected to provide forestry staff with an assessment and recommendations on how to save some of the usable wood.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said the blowdowns and the pile of trees are a serious fire hazard and a safety risk.

“Think of standing trees, as opposed to trees that are piled up higgily-jiggily together and the ones that are down and like that pose a much more serious fire hazard if things get going,” said Siebring. “In a conventional forest fire situation, with standing trees, the flames go up the outside of the tree and they go a fair way up, but unless it’s really intense heat it doesn’t necessarily destroy the whole tree.”

Ambrosia Beetles are attracted to dead wood and they are another threat to the Municipal Forest Reserve.

Once their in and have compromised the tree, that timber isn’t worth much.

Siebring said time is of the essence to salvage some timber.

“When you have these big piles of blowdown, that can create this incredibly hot pocket, which can create more problems for the forest around it, so we have to try and salvage some of those trees,” said Siebring. “The other issue is beetles, the beetles are attracted to the dead wood and if we don’t get in there soon, the beetles are going to take over and create more problems.”

In December, North Cowichan council considered a motion to pause logging in parts of the reserve and postponed a decision until council finishes its priority planning exercise and develops a strategic plan.

Council also needs to tour the reserve and are waiting for a detailed staff report on forest operations.