The mountain pine beetle, Dendroctorus ponderosae, isn’t much bigger than the head of a pin, but the voracious pest is laying waste to vast swaths of interior B.C. forest—from Prince George in the northern part of the province to 200 kilometres west, into beautiful Tweedsmuir, the province’s largest park and one of the epidemic’s origins.

Time Left

It’s already decimated an estimated 9.2 million hectares of forest and experts say 80 per cent of provincial pine forests will be destroyed by 2013, threatening to turn places like Tweedsmuir into a tinderbox of dead wood.

See It

While clearcut logging has been ramped up elsewhere in the province to harvest beetle-damaged wood and control forest fires, the provincial government has spared Tweedsmuir, one of the jewels in B.C.’s park system. Visit this remote and wild park that straddles the dry interior forest and damp Coast Mountains before the beetles—or government-approved loggers (

Save It

Only frigid temperatures of –40˚C, sustained over several days, will kill the pine beetle in large enough numbers. Meanwhile, B.C. Parks has authorized small-scale removal of infected trees, prescribed burns and the use of pheromone baits and traps to capture beetles in Tweedsmuir.

This story was originally published in the June 2007 issue of up! magazine as part of the See It Before It’s Gone feature, profiling 11 of Canada’s must-see natural and man-made tourist attractions on the brink of extinction.