Cold weather deals blow to pine beetles

Even though many Albertans were bemoaning the frigid temperatures of a late-January cold snap, the subzero weather had a good side: it was bad news for mountain pine beetles.

Dr. Barry Cooke, a scientist with the Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton, said a computer model is suggesting beetle larvae in northern and southern Alberta saw mortality rates of 95 and 50 per cent respectively over this winter.


Interfor to Acquire Additional Timber Tenure in the Kamloops Region

International Forest Products Limited ("Interfor" or the "Company") (TSX:IFP.A) announced today it has reached agreement to acquire a timber tenure in the Kamloops region currently owned by Weyerhaeuser Company Limited ("Weyerhaeuser") having an Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) of approximately 356,000 cubic meters.

The tenure will strengthen Interfor's long term timber supply in the region and help to offset anticipated declines in future supply as a result of the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. The acquisition will benefit Interfor's sawmill at Adams Lake and the communities associated with that operation.


B.C. budget will boost exploration

The British Columbia Government introduced its latest budget that will help stimulate investment in the exploration industry. The budget sets aside $6 million for Geoscience B.C. Another $6 million will support exploration in regions affected by the mountain pine beetle, in an effort to broaden the economic base of communities in those regions. Extra funds ($12 million over three years) are being made available to hire staff and reduce the environmental assessment backlog. Another chunk of cash ($30 million over three years) will be spent to support the participation of First Nations in mineral development decisions.


Geoscience BC Applauds Government's $12 Million Commitment for Mineral and Oil and Gas Exploration in B.C.

Geoscience BC today commended the provincial government for its commitment of $6 million in new funding to support mineral exploration work in pine-beetle affected areas of the province and $6 million for oil and gas exploration in B.C.'s frontier areas, which was announced in today's provincial budget.

"This investment will advance our understanding of B.C.'s resource potential to help stimulate new economic activity in the province," said Dr. Lyn Anglin, President and CEO of Geoscience BC. "The new funding will be used to accelerate mineral exploration geoscience projects in B.C.'s pine-beetle infested area to diversify local economies and help sustain forest-dependent communities. It will also enable Geoscience BC to launch new geoscience projects in northeast B.C. designed to identify new potential oil and gas plays."


Forestry association warns about wildfire threat

The Western Silvicultural Contractors Association is running up a warning about this year's wildfire threat in British Columbia.

Spokesman Dave Lewis says conditions are frightening with 11 million hectares of standing dead timber killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.


Pine beetle kill problem could yield fuel source

Untold numbers of dead pine trees now cover the mountainsides of western Colorado, and the bugs that killed them are finding their way onto the Front Range.

While that's a scary and depressing prospect, given the heightened wildfire danger associated with the trees killed by the voracious pine beetle, some are viewing the situation as an opportunity to turn a huge problem into a possible new fuel source.

Women’s forum looks at pine beetle plague

Boom, Bust and Beyond is a forum on women's perspectives on the mountain pine beetle epidemic and its impact on the lives of northern women.

The free forum facilitated by the UNBC Northern Women's Centre on March 28 and 29 at UNBC is attracting women from throughout the province.


Parks heats up beetle battle

The ongoing war against the mountain pine beetle continues in Banff National Park, with Parks Canada planning to cut and burn about 300 trees to help control the spread of the insect onto neighbouring provincial lands.

The environmental assessment for the project is now out for public review. The deadline for public input is Feb. 15, and if approved, Parks hopes to get started on the work sometime shortly after that.


BC Hydro wants wood-based power producers

BC Hydro, today, said it wants to hear from companies proposing to turn waste wood into electricity.

In a news release, BC Hydro said the call for wood waste electricity is "intended to help address the effects of the mountain pine beetle infestation, while at the same time developing new sources of clean energy."

Native towns at risk of going up in flames

Aboriginal leaders are warning that more than 100 native communities are in danger of being ravaged by fire come spring due to the massive swath of dry, dead timber left behind by British Columbia's pine beetle outbreak.

Raising the spectre of fires and evacuations rivalling last year's infernos in Greece and California, native leaders from B.C. are in Ottawa this week urging Conservative cabinet ministers to act now.

The pine beetle damage is already wreaking havoc on native communities through forestry job losses, as well as fear that traditional methods of hunting and gathering are disappearing along with the trees. But in these remote villages, fire is the immediate worry.

"We've got a fire season approaching and the potential for a disaster to be compounded with runaway wildfires is huge. It's imminent. It's very real. And people are very worried," said Dave Porter of B.C.'s First Nations Summit, which represents a majority of aboriginal communities in the province.


Tree planters sound alarm over falling seedling orders

Tree planters say there has been a drastic cutback in the number of seedlings being ordered in B.C., raising questions about the effectiveness of provincial strategies to replant forests in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

John Betts, executive director of the Western Silvicultural Contractors Association, said requests for seedlings for the 2009 season are down 25 per cent, a drop of 70 million trees from 2007, when 276 million were planted.

Reforestation drop stumps B.C. tree planters

The Western Silviculture Contractors Association says it foresees a 25 per cent drop in the number of trees planted in B.C. this year.

WSCA executive director John Betts said the expected decline in reforestation makes no sense in light of the need to replace millions of trees being killed by a massive beetle infestation.


Researchers using new tool in fight against pine beetle

Alberta and B.C. researchers have embarked on a unique project to catalogue the genes of the three biological components in the mountain pine beetle infestation that has devastated huge tracts of forest in B.C. and is having a considerable effect in Alberta as well.

The project, which officially began at the beginning of January and is being undertaken by Genome Alberta and Genome British Columbia, along with researchers from four Alberta and B.C. research facilities, will result in partial genomic sequences of the active genes in lodgepole pine and mountain pine beetle and a full sequence of the fungal pathogen the beetles carry.


More ground to cover on bioenergy

Finding uses for B.C.'s abundant supply of beetle-killed wood has put bioenergy front and centre.

Premier Gordon Campbell gave it another plug Thursday night in Prince George when he was joined by no fewer than five members of his cabinet, plus the chairman of his northern caucus.

Dots worth connecting: beetle kill to motor fuel

A flurry of announcements in recent weeks about combating the pine beetle has to make you wonder. Why now? It's already infested 1.5 million acres of Colorado lodgepole pine forest, laying waste to a goodly chunk of the state's scenic beauty. Mostly we've heard that nature was allowed to take its course. It's tempting to say the devastation finally got people's attention when it began showing up along the populous Front Range. But that's only partly true.

"It's about time," said Gary Severson, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. "We've been hitting this problem real hard for the past three years."

Cold weather beetle beater

Temperatures of -35 C are too cold . . . for beetles.

It's hard to find an upside to the recent cold snap, but icy weather could kill large populations of forest-destroying insects before they arrive.


Premier announces bioplan

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was in Prince George Thursday to announce a long-awaited bioenergy strategy, which will give existing forest tenure holders a first crack at producing electricity from wood waste and beetle-killed timber.

B.C. Hydro's first call for proposals is expected in the next few weeks.

British Columbia: New Bioenergy Strategy Advances innovation

The BC Bioenergy Strategy will create new opportunities for rural communities; spur new investment and innovation; and help British Columbia reach the goal of becoming electricity self-sufficient by 2016, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.

“The BC Bioenergy Strategy lays the framework for us to convert more waste into clean energy, helping to ensure we meet future energy demands,” said Campbell. “There is an abundance of bioenergy opportunities, such as using biomass created out of the mountain pine beetle outbreak that can stimulate investment and economic diversification while producing clean energy.”