2008-11-28

Conference to Explore the Future of Parks and Protected Areas

"Putting Research into Action" is the theme of a conference that will be held at UNBC starting Monday. The event is expected to draw about 150 researchers and protected area managers/planners from BC, Alberta, Washington, and Alaska with the intent of applying research to the pressing issues affecting the future of parks and protected areas throughout British Columbia.

“The most pressing issues for our parks include forest management and restoration in the wake of the pine beetle, the effects of climate change, the encroachment of competing land uses, and understanding the changing expectations of park visitors,” says Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program and Chair of the conference. “It’s especially gratifying to see UNBC’s emergence as a university that is paying attention to these issues. In fact, 15 of the research presentations during the conference will come from UNBC students, alumni, or faculty.”

The conference will be held at UNBC from December 1-3. A prominent Canadian adventurer will deliver the keynote address at the conference. Wade Davis, an “explorer in residence” for the National Geographic Society and the 2009 Massey Lecturer.

Project would remove dead trees along forest roads

Beetle-killed trees may be removed along 750 miles of roads, in six campgrounds and in 11 administrative sites within the Helena National Forest because the trees could fall down and hurt people.

Forest officials propose felling standing dead and dying trees that are within 1.5-tree heights — between 75 and 175 feet — from the edge of scores of roads, beginning in the spring of 2009.

The trees could be left on site, stacked or chipped, or removed from an area. Depending on the number of dead or infected trees in an area, the forest officials said they believe when the project is completed the impacted areas could look either like an area that’s been thinned, or a clearcut with scattered regeneration.

2008-11-27

MPBs continue to bug forestry industry

Soft markets and voracious pine beetles are taking a big bite out of Alberta's forestry sector.

The Alberta Forest Products Association says the value of shipped lumber, panel board and pulp and paper is down by nearly 270 million dollars for the first three quarters of this year, compared to the same period last year.

The association says companies are bracing for even lower demand and lower prices next year.

Alberta may clear cut trees to stop pine beetle

Alberta may clear cut trees in a popular recreation area west of Calgary to help thwart the spread of the voracious mountain pine beetle.

New reports suggest the number of the timber-killing beetles in southwest Alberta has doubled.

About three-quarters of the infested region consists of provincial parks in an area that Albertans call Kananaskis Country, along the eastern edge of Banff National Park.

Clear-cut solution to pine beetles

One of southern Alberta’s most famous mountains could soon be scarred by clear-cut logging, area residents fear.

But an Alberta forestry company says logging is the only way to respond to the pine beetle infestation that’s spread east from British Columbia. It says trees in the Atlas Road area, at the base of Crowsnest Mountain, could begin falling shortly after Christmas.

That’s going to have a severe impact on the area’s recreation and tourism opportunities, Pass citizens warn. They’re urging the provincial government to order selective logging instead, leaving trails intact and preserving views of the craggy peak that towers over their municipality.

2008-11-24

Pine beetles waning in northern Alta., booming in south

There is reason for both celebration and despair among those fighting to prevent the dreaded mountain pine beetle from spreading east and destroying billions more trees.

According to the Alberta government's aerial surveys conducted in August and September, the number of infected trees has dropped significantly - by 35 per cent - in the northwestern part of the province thanks to on-the-ground work and some particularly cold days last winter.

But for 752,200 hectares of monitored provincial lands in the south, the momentum is going the other way.

Tree Canada and BC Transmission Corporation Extend Deadline on Mountain Pine Beetle ReLeaf Coupon Program

Last month, Tree Canada and BC Transmission Corporation (BCTC) launched the new Mountain Pine Beetle ReLeaf program. This new program provides coupons to BC residents who have lost pine trees to the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. Due to the popularity of the program and input from British Columbians, the deadline for the coupon has been extended to June 30, 2009.

"We want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in the program. In some of the areas most affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle, the ground can still be frozen in March," explained Mike Witherly, BCTC Communications Manager. "By extending the deadline by three months, we hope that more damaged trees will be replaced."

"Tree Canada is committed to working with BCTC and all its partners to lessen the impact of Mountain Pine Beetle," said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada. "Trees are important to British Columbians and we at Tree Canada applaud BCTC's efforts to assist in the recovery from this dreadful epidemic."

2008-11-23

Forest Service tackles Silverthorne beetle kill

With many of the logging projects in the core of Summit County under way, the Forest Service is setting its sights on a large-scale forest-health study in the Lower Blue north of Silverthorne.

To help the public understand the scope of the project, the agency is holding an open house on Tuesday from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Dillon Ranger District office at 680 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne.

According to a Forest Service press release, drought, mild winters, and single-aged mature stands of pine trees have made the forest susceptible to pine beetle attacks across much of northern Colorado.

2008-11-19

Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West

On the side of a mountain on the outskirts of Montana’s capital city, loggers are racing against a beetle grub the size of a grain of rice.

From New Mexico to British Columbia, the region’s signature pine forests are succumbing to a huge infestation of mountain pine beetles that are turning a blanket of green forest into a blanket of rust red. Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse.

“We’re seeing exponential growth of the infestation,” said Clint Kyhl, director of a Forest Service incident management team in Laramie, Wyo., that was set up to deal with the threat of fire from dead forests. Increased construction of homes in forest areas over the last 20 years makes the problem worse.

2008-11-17

Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West

On the side of a mountain on the outskirts of Montana’s capital city, loggers are racing against a beetle grub the size of a grain of rice.

From New Mexico to British Columbia, the region’s signature pine forests are succumbing to a huge infestation of mountain pine beetles that are turning a blanket of green forest into a blanket of rust red. Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse.

“We’re seeing exponential growth of the infestation,” said Clint Kyhl, director of a Forest Service incident management team in Laramie, Wyo., that was set up to deal with the threat of fire from dead forests. Increased construction of homes in forest areas over the last 20 years makes the problem worse.

2008-11-16

Location of arsenic laden trees revealed years after pesticide use curtailed

Years after the use of a toxic pine beetle pesticide was stopped, the B.C. government has posted no-go zones throughout the province to keep people from being exposed to potentially harmful levels of arsenic.

Questions are being asked by the province´s NDP forestry critic, Bob Simpson, about why it took so long to pinpoint these forest areas.

"Why is data about our public forests so corrupt that we´ve been waiting four years to put this quarantine on the land base," said Simpson.

2008-11-15

B.C. pine beetle solution may cause toxic trees

What was hoped to halt the spread of the B.C. mountain pine beetle may actually be hazardous to human health.

B.C.'s Ministry of Forests is testing thousands of trees in the Okanagan-Shuswap region near Penticton to see if they contain a dangerous concentration of arsenic.

For two decades, ending in 2004, as many as 100,000 trees throughout the Interior were treated with monosodium methane arsenate (MSMA) in a bid to stop the spread of the mountain pine beetle.

Trees treated for mountain pine beetle infestation now being tested for arsenic

B.C.’s Ministry of Forests is testing thousands of trees in the Okanagan-Shuswap region to see if they contain a dangerous concentration of arsenic.

The testing comes after the trees were treated with a pesticide that may pose a threat to human health.

The product was injected into the base of trees to kill the mountain pine beetles.

Beetles: City forms battle plan

Tiny, black mountain pine beetles have ganged up on about 300 Scotch pine trees in Great Falls this year.

"They are essentially doomed," said Kevin Wanner, assistant professor of entomology at Montana State University in Bozeman, during a trip to Great Falls last week.

Those trees may be goners, but there are ways to protect other pine trees that have not been infested, experts told members of the Great Falls City Commission.

2008-11-14

Timber supply review begins

The chief forester's office has launched the latest timber supply review for the Prince George Timber Supply Area, where the amount of logging allowed each year was increased significantly in response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

In 2002 annual allowable cut, known more commonly as the AAC, was increased by three million cubic metres. Another increase of 2.7 million cubic metres was added in 2004 to bring the current annual cut to 14.9 million.

The chief forester's office noted the beetle epidemic is still affecting the timber supply area, which includes the communities of Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
However, recent research shows the epidemic has peaked in Prince George and Vanderhoof, while it is still increasing in Fort St. James.

Victoria was long blind to arsenic's risks

Thursday's line story from Sun reporters Larry Pynn and Darah Hansen about the provincial government urging loggers and the public to avoid forests treated with a potentially cancer-causing pesticide was not surprising.

What is surprising is that, despite voluminous scientific literature, Victoria took seven years to figure out that arsenic might be sufficiently hazardous that the public deserves to told to avoid it.

I wrote in 2001 that the proposed treatment of forests with an arsenic-based pesticide was already raising serious concerns among some medical professionals and toxicologists.

2008-11-13

Mountain pine beetle: pesticide residue could be hazardous to humans

The same infestation that's already decimated forests across BC could now be a hazard to human beings as well.

Victoria is warning people to stay out of areas affected by the mountain pine beetle because of pesticide residue.

MSMA was widely used in northern BC and the Interior until 2004.

Beetle numbers tell a story

Many areas on the Helena National Forest are infested by mountain pine beetle as evidenced by red trees across the landscape.

Each year, the U.S. Forest Service monitors conditions with aerial detection flights across the region to help understand the magnitude and location of insect activity.

Mountain pine beetles have caused large areas of mortality in parts of Colorado and British Columbia, more recently moving into Montana.

2008-11-12

Public, loggers urged to avoid trees treated with pine-beetle pesticide

The B.C. forests ministry has produced a map of thousands of trees that the public and loggers are urged to avoid due to arsenic residue from the application of a pine-beetle pesticide no longer used in Canada.

Monosodium methanearsenate, or MSMA, was widely used in B.C.'s northern and Interior regions from the mid-1980s until 2004 with assurances at the time that the pesticide, sold under the trade name Glowon, posed little threat to the environment or to human health.

By 2005, MSMA was no longer in use in Canada after the manufacturer allowed its permit to expire.

Resource data collected for entire region

A new survey from Geoscience BC will help develop economic diversification and stimulate exploration industry interest for northern communities devastated by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Geoscience BC planned to release their QUEST-West airborne gravity survey on their website at noon on November 6.

“This survey will provide our northern communities with the information to move forward and to take advantage of new economic opportunities,” says Prince George-Omineca MLA John Rustad, who is also chair of the Northern Caucus. “Our government has been a long supporter of the vital work conducted by Geoscience BC and I’m pleased the organization is once again assisting in the growth of Northern residents.”

The QUEST-West gravity survey covers over 40,000 square kilometres, and includes the communities of Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Topley, Granisle, Houston, Telkwa, Smithers, Terrace and Kitimat.

2008-11-10

Early detection makes all the difference in Beetle fight

Once mountain pine beetles invade a tree and begin digging channels inside of it, the cause is lost, insect pest expert Kevin Wanner told Great Falls city commissioners last week.

However, if only a few beetles are snooping around a tree, Wanner said he would not hesitate to try to protect a Scotch pine tree in his own yard.

If no beetles are around, spraying a tree probably will yield good results, he said.

2008-11-07

Raven Biofuels Signs MOU With Kamloops Indian Band for Feedstock and Biorefinery Development

Raven Biofuels International Corporation(OTCBB: RVBF) ("Raven" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it hasentered into a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with the Kamloops IndianBand ("KIB") located in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, the purpose ofwhich is to further the development and construction of a proposed ethanolbiorefinery and cogeneration power plant in conjunction with KIB.

As part of the agreement, KIB (www.kib.ca) would provide a site ideallysituated for industrial use near Kamloops, BC. KIB brings significantaccess to feedstock resources secured via a multi-year Provincial forestryagreement in which KIB has rights to 124,000 cubic metres of beetle-killedwood within the Kamloops Timber Supply Area. The forestry agreementaugments a forest and range agreement signed by the band in 2005, whichgranted $2.5 million in shared revenues and 272,000 cubic metres of timberover five years.

Recent meetings in Kamloops have led to the agreement between both partiesof a non-binding MOU which outlines the mutual interest towards pursuing analliance leading to the construction of a cogeneration power facility andbiorefinery utilizing technology and expertise provided by Raven plus asite, feedstock and other resources provided by KIB. Mr. Ken Day of PriceBiostock (www.pricebiostock.com) was instrumental in introducing Raven toKIB. Price Biostock will maintain a role in providing feedstock expertiseand management in the proposed venture.

Pine Beetles: Out of the Forest, Into the City

Mountain pine beetles are sweeping through British Columbia’s vast forests with highly destructive results, but their mass attacks don’t stop at the edge of town.

Working in one of B.C.’s latest beetle battlegrounds -- the city of Kelowna -- UBC Okanagan biologist Bob Lalonde and mathematician Rebecca Tyson are combining their expertise to track how the mountain pine beetle spreads through an urban landscape during a mass infestation. Although extensive research has been done on the mountain pine beetle in a forest setting, there is very little information on how they work their way through a city, says Lalonde, Associate Professor of Biology and Physical Geography.

“Essentially, we have an empty playing field to conduct our research,” says Lalonde. “This summer, a mammoth infestation of mountain pine beetles arrived in the City of Kelowna, creating an interesting opportunity to pursue the beetle’s movements in an urban landscape from the beginning of an infestation. As you can imagine, many people, organizations and municipalities are interested in the project.”

2008-11-06

Geoscience BC Releases QUEST-West Airborne Gravity Survey

Geoscience BC is pleased to announce the release of the QUEST-West airborne gravity survey today at 12:00 pm Pacific Time in Nelson BC, at the Minerals South Conference organized by the Chamber of Mines of Eastern BC.

The QUEST-West airborne gravity survey covers an area of over 40,000 square kilometers, and includes the communities of Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Topley, Granisle, Houston, Telkwa, Smithers, Terrace and Kitimat. This area is significantly affected by the infestation of the Mountain Pine Beetle. The QUEST-West Project is designed to stimulate exploration industry interest and investment in the area, and develop economic diversification opportunities for the communities in this region.

"This airborne survey is contributing a significant amount of new data on the geology and mineral potential of a large area of BC's interior," said BC's Minister of State for Mining, Gordon Hogg. "The results of the QUEST-West surveys will help to direct industry exploration investment and help to stimulate new mineral discoveries in Mountain Pine Beetle affected areas of the Province."

2008-11-05

Bio-mass waiting on call

A proposed biomass-fueled power generation facility in Houston is still waiting for B.C. Hydro to make the call.

The 50-70 megawatt power generation facility would utilize sawmill waste, such as forest residuals, from harvesting activities like tree limbs and low-grade pine beetle wood.

A week-long pilot project was done to look at the potential value of the fuel and the cost to bring it to the plant, Bill Tice, communications manager for West Fraser said. The project is mired as they wait for a call for proposals.

2008-11-01

Steps taken to make logging roads safer

Forest companies and government and safety agencies have joined in a plan to keep roads safe in the Nukko and Ness Lake areas where about 15,000 truck loads of beetle-killed timber will be hauled this winter.
The volume being hauled will amount to 250 loaded logging trucks travelling through the rural residential area northwest of the city each day, five days a week. Canfor is slated to begin hauling in the second week of November, with Carrier Lumber starting in early December.

Timber will be hauled 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, until mid-March. The plan is not to haul on weekends.

Reid Lake area resident Nancy Harris welcomed the planning, saying it has improved substantially from the previous year when significant amounts of beetle-killed timber were first pulled from the area.