2009-04-30

Mountain Pine beetle continues to thrive

Although last winter saw many days with the mercury at a bone-chilling level, the mountain pine beetle (MPB) remained unaffected and now continues its eastward trek toward Crowsnest Pass.

There are currently about 18,000 pine beetle-infested trees in the South Rockies Region, as opposed to the 3,000 Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) counted last year, says Brad Jones, forest health officer for SRD. He says this year’s infestation is five times greater.

“Although we had some real cold weather this winter, we do not anticipate that the MPB populations will be wiped out. Cold weather events need to kill 97.5 per cent of the population just to see the population remain static (according to Canadian Forest Service data). We are hopeful that 90 per cent of the beetles were wiped out, but this is not close to enough. Think that one female produces 60 offspring, on average.”

2009-04-28

Pine Beetles ATTACK!

Across the Rocky Mountain West, islands of green pine trees dot the landscape, isolated from one another by a sea of dying, and dead, rusty colored pines.

A decade of elevated onslaught by the tiny dendroctonus ponderosa, or mountain pine beetle, has wrought havoc on pine forests from New Mexico to British Columbia, and the latest beetle epidemic is well on its way to turning green Teton hillsides to wildfire fuel.

Large-scale destruction can be seen on Togwotee Pass, in Granite Canyon, down the Snake River Canyon, in the forests around Pinedale, and in the Kemmerer Forest District, among other places, according to Liz Davy, silviculturalist and timber program manager for the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

2009-04-27

What Is The Future Of Pulp Mills In Canada?

We have had the beetle epidemic, a major down turn in the world demand for soft wood lumber and through it all, the saving grace has been the pulp industry, which has been able to chug along, in many cases propping up the saw mills associated with them.

That all could come to an end and very quickly if the US government continues to subsidize the US pulp industry through a loop hole that allows companies to use a tax credit if fossil fuel is mixed with alternate fuel to reduce the use of fossil fuel.

Pulp mills create black liquor and burn that liquor to recover chemicals and create heat, so it is an alternate fuel. By adding diesel fuel to the black liquor, US companies could see a subsidy of up to $6 Billion a year in a tax credit.

2009-04-26

Pine beetles relaunch attack on B.C. forests

It is shaping up to be another bad year for British Columbia's forests, which have been decimated in recent years by a massive mountain pine beetle infestation.

Forestry officials in the province's Interior had hoped for a long, cold winter to kill the tiny pest.

But it now looks like that didn't happen.

2009-04-24

Motivating beetlemania

The mountain pine beetle, while not necessarily our friend, is just another part of the ecosystem, Boyd Lebeda, a member of the Colorado State Forestry Service, told the Estes Land Stewardship Association at the library recently.

Lebeda said the forest service has had a lot of interaction with the pine beetle and the big changes in our forests over the last decade. These changes are challenging people’s perspectives on forests, but there are meaningful steps citizens may take to help preserve the trees, he said.

There have been changes in every single forest type during the last decade, he said, because of the severity of the drought and increase in wildfires, which created conditions that allowed insects to take advantage and thrive. Not only mountain pine beetles are chewing their way through forests. Pinon and spruce beetles are active, also. Aspen have problems with different pathogens that are affecting them because of the drought and their location. The ash borer (not detected here yet) and the gypsy moth (largely in urban areas) are also among native and non-native “heinous” insects, Lebeda said.

2009-04-23

Construction Plans Ready for Bio-Energy Plant

Work on one of two independent power projects in Prince George will start May 4th.

The $50 million dollar project calls for PG Interior Waste to Energy Ltd to burn wood waste from the Mark and Grant Dakus sawmill (on the site of the former Netherlands Overseas mill) the forest floor and pine beetle-killed timber in order to generate electricity. It will use about 100 thousand cubic meters of wood waste in the Prince George area which would normally have been burned as slash.

The implications for the Prince George area are three fold;

1. The project will create jobs,
2. will reduce the burning of slash which will have a positive effect on the airshed, and
3. the emissions will be 70% lower than what had been coming from that site.

Campbell pledges aid to forestry workers

Premier Gordon Campbell campaigned through the epicentre of B.C.'s mountain pine beetle crisis yesterday, touring a sawmill and nursery in Quesnel and repeating his promise of more money and assistance for displaced forestry workers.

"I'm not suggesting we're not going through challenging times," Campbell told workers outside a wood-planing facility operated by West Fraser Timber. "But challenging times also open up opportunities if you view them through the right lenses."

B.C. has pushed to find those opportunities by selling wood products to China, Japan, South Korea and India, said Campbell. Despite mill closures and layoffs, the forest industry still accounts for 39 cents of every dollar in goods exported from B.C. It directly employs 55,000 people, but has lost 20,000 workers over the last two years.

2009-04-08

COMMUNITY TRUST WORKERS IMPROVE FOREST HEALTH IN GOLDEN

A dozen forest workers will be improving silviculture practices and forest health near Golden through $289,230 from the Community Development Trust for two Job Opportunities Program projects, Community Development Minister Kevin Krueger and Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced.

“The Community Development Trust is one of our key tools to assist forest workers, their families and communities through this difficult economic time. I am pleased to see these projects get underway in Golden,” said Krueger. “This funding will help keep 12 workers employed while improving forest health and assisting the region to deal with the impact of the mountain pine beetle.”

One six-worker project involves identifying and removing trees infested with mountain pine beetle larvae from about 800 hectares of land before the emergence and flight of the adult beetles later this year. The second project will also involve a six-worker crew, removing younger and smaller trees from 162 hectares of Crown land. The project will improve growing conditions, and the overall amount and quality of wood available for future harvest. Both projects are near the community of Parson, about 35 kilometres south of Golden.

2009-04-07

Federal Government Invests in Neskonlith Indian Band Industrial Park Project

Colin Mayes, Member of Parliament for Okanagan - Shuswap, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, today announced a federal investment towards the Neskonlith Indian Band to begin construction on a local industrial park.

"Today's investment will help provide the Neskonlith Indian Band the tools needed to strengthen and diversify their economy," said Mr. Mayes. "Funding will assist the Neskonlith Band to start development of a light industrial park that will create new opportunities and new jobs for our region."

"Our Government has taken concrete action towards supporting the diversification of communities impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle," said the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources. "Today's announcement creates new and exciting opportunities for the local economy and encourages industrial growth within the region."

2009-04-06

BC Liquid Fuels From Biomass Program Awards Lignol C$3.4 Million to Produce Cellulosic Ethanol From Wood-Waste and Beetle-Kill Pine

Lignol Energy Corporation (TSX-V: LEC) ("Lignol" or "the Company"), a leading technology company in the cellulosic ethanol and biorefining sector, announced April 6 that its wholly owned subsidiary, Lignol Innovations Ltd., has been awarded $3.4 million in funding to produce cellulosic ethanol and other biochemical products from under-utilized forest resources, including lodgepole pine killed by mountain pine beetle.

Premier Gordon Campbell announced the award from the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development at Lignol's facilities in Burnaby, B.C. on Friday, April 3, 2009.

Lignol will use the funding to support production runs at its industrial scale biorefinery pilot plant utilizing forestry residues indigenous to British Columbia, including beetle-killed lodgepole pine.

Sunpine hoping cold has killed pine beetles

Sunpine Forest Products Inc. is taking a cautious approach to recent scientific data predicting up to 95 per cent of pine beetles were killed off by deep freezes this winter.

Computer models run by the Canadian Forest Service forecast 95 per cent pine beetle mortality in Southern Alberta and 90 per cent on the Eastern Slopes in Northern Alberta.

“It predicts pretty high mortality and I sure hope the prediction is on,” said Tom Daniels, community forester with Sunpine, a division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.

2009-04-04

COMMUNITY TRUST WORKERS IMPROVE VALEMOUNT FIRE SAFETY

Six forest workers are reducing the risk of fire and improving forest health around Valemount through $51,520 from the Community Development Trust’s Job Opportunities Program, Community Development Minister Kevin Krueger and Prince George-Mount Robson MLA Shirley Bond announced today.

“The Job Opportunities Program is creating employment for Valemount forest workers that will result in the village being better prepared for the approaching fire season,” said Bond. “This is another example of how partnerships between different levels of government will provide a direct benefit to rural and Northern Communities.”

The project includes fuel management and the removal of pine beetle-attacked and vulnerable trees on 24 hectares of land about one kilometre south of Valemount. The workers will also thin the remaining stand, and remove mistletoe-damaged pine, and forest fire fuels like brush and fallen trees.

2009-04-02

West Fraser given more timber to cut in B.C.

The allowable annual timber harvest on West Fraser's tree farm licence east of Quesnel is being increased 15 per cent to one million cubic metres.

Much of the increase is meant to help address the impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. About 85 per cent of the tree farm licence’s pine supply is affected by the mountain pine beetle. The tree farm licence -- an area-based timber harvest right and responsibility -- also has a significant stock of spruce, some of which is threatened by a spruce beetle infestation.

“We need to salvage as much pine as possible while it’s still merchantable. We must also mitigate the impacts of spruce bark beetle to ensure a sustainable source of non-pine timber for the future,” said deputy chief forester Melanie Boyce. “The new allowable annual cut reflects that balance.”

2009-04-01

B.C. First Nations may open pine beetle offices

If the Federal Government approves $60 million in funding over the next three years, the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council will open pine beetle project offices in Prince George and Kamloops.

The pine beetle offices would help 103 First Nation communities in British Columbia in the beetle epidemic zone protect their communities from wildfire risk.

The project offices have been in the planning stages for some time, and were originally inspired by what the First Nations group said it believed was an agreement with the province that 20 per cent of a promised $100 million a year in federal beetle funding would be directed to First Nations.