“We are having issues here and at other sites,” said Steven Hunter, a forester for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell’s planning and forestry department (UCPR). “And we’re not the only ones in Ontario having to deal with this.”
The problem, Hunter said, is that Armillaria root rot and heterobasidium annosum, two diseases that affect the roots of red pines and some other coniferous species, have begun to make their presence felt in the grounds of the community forest. Indications are the diseases became established at least a decade ago, but their impact on the Larose Forest profile is starting to become apparent now.
“It was fairly advanced,” Hunter said, regarding one site where salvage logging is taking place. “We were starting to see some (tree) morbidity.”
If the diseased trees are not removed, the two root rot diseases can spread through underground contact to neighbouring red pines and may also infect other conifer species. The UCPR is using the same salvage logging plan that is now in effect in Simcoe County, which also has a root rot problem in its woodlands.
Social media critic
Sponsors of the Sauvons la Forêt Larose/Save Our Larose Forest Facebook page have criticized the salvage logging operation, claiming that the UCPR hired a contractor for clearcutting work that would have damaged a deer wintering area. The group is demanding a public meeting on the salvage logging operation.
“We have got 11,000 hectares of forest here, and we will protect deer habitat where we can,” Hunter said, regarding the social media allegation. “With sites in better conditions, we have other options we can follow.”
Hunter also noted that tree planting of logged sites will take place, if necessary, to assist with the natural regeneration process. Besides red pine, any replanting work will also include red and white maple seedlings. Replanted areas become habitat for other plants and animals, as the area returns to a forested state.
The Larose Forest straddles the boundary between Clarence-Rockland’s rural area and The Nation Municipality. Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins noted, during the February 19 session of city council, that addressing the problem of red pine root rot in the community forest is a key economic and environmental issue. Desjardins chairs the UCPR’s planning and forestry advisory committee.
“Red pine is the moneymaker for the Larose Forest,” he said during an interview, adding that revenue from UCPR logging operations in the community forest help fund purchases of neighbouring lands, which become available for sale. Those lands then become new extensions of the Larose Forest.