Parks Canada, battling pine beetles, to remove 1,500 Banff-area trees

Parks Canada plans to help the Alberta government's war against the mountain pine beetle by removing about 1,500 trees attacked by the destructive insect.

Officials say they want to slow the build-up of the beetle population in Banff, thus reducing the number of beetles spreading eastward onto provincial lands.

They say colonized trees will be removed by hand-felling, piling and burning of individual trees between November and April.


Winter offensive planned to burn out pine beetles in central Alberta

Foresters are mounting an offensive on mountain pine beetles in west-central Alberta after a rising number of the pests were found in the relatively unscathed region.

Government and forestry company officials will be removing any infested trees and burning them this winter to try to prevent the highly destructive beetle from invading further.

The plan comes after Sundre Forest Products set up 59 bait sites within the Clearwater Forest Management Area and discovered up to 80 mountain pine beetle hits on trees. That’s up from five or six last year.


NCMA Supports Silviculture Pilot Project

The North Central Municipal Association is supporting a pilot project by the Western Silvicultural Contractors Association. The project will see immediate action in replanting areas devastated by the mountain pine beetle.

The pilot project proposes reforesting thousands of hectares of beetle-killed forests by first strategically harvesting the dead wood and sorting it into sawlogs, pulpwood, and biomass.

The wood would be auctioned at the roadside to support existing sawmills and kick start bio-energy opportunities. The revenues from the wood sales would pay for the ensuing landscape level restoration as well as provide valuable experience in finding practical ways to restore beetle plagued forests to health, harvest bio-mass, and reduce the growing wildfire threat.


UNBC study gauges reaction to beetle wood as concrete aggregate

A marketing study is underway to gauge the construction industry’s response to concrete products made with wood killed by the mountain pine beetle.

Substituting conventional aggregates of stones and rocks with beetle killed wood chips emerged from research at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George in 2007.

The next step is a broad-based market research initiative.


Perfect Storm Threatens Central BC Economy

300 people hitting the bricks in our region is just another symptom of what is happening around us. If anyone says the central part of the province of BC has not been subjected to a perfect storm, read on.

First we are hit with the most severe mountain pine beetle epidemic to ever hit the province. Our pine forest is decimated.

The US housing market goes into the tank , so while we need to cut the beetle killed wood as quickly as we can to get some value out of it, there is no market for the product. Canada’s largest trading partner in lumber products, the USA is in the tank, homes are selling in some parts for as little as one third of their building price. Our market in the USA, for lack of a better way of describing it, is a dead duck for years to come.


Pine beetle trees replaceable thanks to Releaf program

The province is stepping in to replace trees killed by the mountain pine beetle -- but this time its trees in resident's own backyards.

The first tree replacement program in the province that will directly aid homeowners who have lost their trees to the beetle was announced today in Fort St John.

The province-wide Releaf program was launched at a tree planting ceremony at the Fish Creek Community park this afternoon. It was attended by Richard Neufeld, MLA for Peace River North, Fort St John Mayor Jim Eglinski, and representatives from Tree Canada and the BC Transmission Corporation.


Tree Canada, BC Transmission Corporation Provide "ReLeaf" from Pine Beetle Epidemic

Tree Canada, the country's leading tree planting organization, launched its new Mountain Pine Beetle ReLeaf program today, announced Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada.

"This program will help residents across BC replace trees damaged by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic," said Rosen. "Our goal is to help protect and revitalize the natural areas we all care about so much."

BC Transmission Corporation is again providing financial support for this project, building on the successful partnership with Tree Canada for the Coastal ReLeaf and Community Greening programs in 2007.

Battling the beetles

About 2,000 dead and dying trees on 30 acres in the Park Lake area southwest of Helena will probably be logged as part of the Helena National Forest’s battle with mountain pine beetles.

Closer to home, federal lands in the South Hills of Helena also are on the priority list for removing both bug-infested and non-infested trees.

It’s the start of what’s expected to be an ongoing tree removal project for at least the next five years, as the Helena National Forest concedes its losing the battle with the beetles. Forest officials recently shifted gears, and now want to focus on removing trees that pose a hazard to people camping, hiking and playing in the woods; logging dead and live trees that can be used for lumber, or are on forest lands near homes; and thinning dense stands where the beetles seem to thrive.


An eco flight for the forest battles beetles

The single-engine, six-seater plane was banking toward Mount Sopris after a smooth takeoff from the Pitkin County Airport, when the experts on board pointed to the first indication of the mountain pine beetle infestation that is rapidly obliterating Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests.

We had taken to the air under the sponsorship of For The Forest, a new non-profit (www.fortheforest.org) that intends to study the beetle-kill phenomenon and educate the public about it. Then, organizers say, the group will look for ways to deal with the devastation that officials say is all but unavoidable in much of the state and across the nation and the world.

As pilot Bruce Gordon of EcoFlight aimed for the peaks of Sopris, a line of trees, perched along the edge of a deep defile on the flanks of the eastern peak, appeared to be just slightly ruddy in color compared to the verdant trees further away from the gulch.


Pine beetles could be new source of antibiotics: research

Experts are welcoming a study that suggests the pine beetles devastating large tracts of North American forests could be a treasure trove of new antibiotics.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard Medical School have isolated a new antibiotic compound in the bacterium associated with the southern pine beetle, a close relative of British Columbia's mountain pine beetle.

The finding could yield "intriguing possibilities" in the medical field, said Dezene Huber, Canada Research Chair in forest entomology at the University of Northern B.C.


Beetle kills Canadian forest

Huge chunks of pine forest land in western Canada are dying.

Millions of acres of pine trees are turning from green to brown, and a tiny insect which has flourished in a warming climate is to blame.

Warm winter temperatures in recent years have allowed the mountain pine beetle to reproduce year-round and its offspring continue to attack mature trees.


Pine Beetles Changing Rocky Mountain Air Quality, Weather

When pine bark beetles kill trees, scientists believe they may also alter local weather patterns and air quality. For the next four years researchers will study forests from southern Wyoming to northern New Mexico to determine the precise relationship between the beetles, the trees they kill and the atmosphere.

A new international field project, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is exploring how trees killed by the beetles influence rainfall, temperatures, smog and other aspects of the atmosphere.

"Forests help control the atmosphere, and there's a big difference between the impacts of a living forest and a dead forest," says NCAR scientist Alex Guenther, a principal investigator on the project. "With a dead forest, we may get different rainfall patterns, for example."

PRT Announces Closure of Tree Seedling Nursery

Pacific Regeneration Technologies Inc. ("PRT") (TSX:PRT.UN) announced today that it will close PRT Pelton, its seedling nursery facility in Maple Ridge, BC. The closure will take place in phases over the next few months and will result in the eventual layoff of approximately 60 employees.

"The closure is the result of a major downturn in demand for tree seedlings across PRT's market areas," said Rob Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer of PRT. "Unfortunately, PRT Pelton has the highest cost structure of our 15 North American nursery operations. After a careful review, we have decided to close it in order to rationalize capacity. Following the closure, we will be able to increase overall efficiency by taking advantage of lower cost unused capacity elsewhere."

Miller continued, "PRT does not expect any improvement in demand for seedlings in 2009 but does expect demand to improve eventually as U.S. housing starts recover. Seedling demand may also strengthen if jurisdictions across North America invest in tree planting to combat global warming, and if British Columbia accelerates its program to replant forests devastated by the Mountain Pine Beetle. PRT will retain key personnel and nursery assets from the closed facility in order to meet future demand as markets recover."

Joint Alberta-B.C. Cabinet Huddle In P.G. Today

The Premier of Alberta and members of his Cabinet are in Prince George today, meeting with Premier Gordon Campbell and members of his cabinet.

B.C.’s Minister of Forests and Range, Pat Bell, has said the two governments will be discussing matters of mutual concern, like the mountain pine beetle, the oil and gas industry, the Highway 16 corridor and the opportunities presented by the Port of Prince Rupert.

Bell says it is most appropriate for this session to be held in Prince George as the issues impact this community and northern B.C.