Alberta faces almost impossible task of stopping pine beetles from spreading

Crews armed with chainsaws and fire are fanning out across Alberta this winter, facing the almost impossible task of stemming the eastward spread of the voracious mountain pine beetle.

After destroying or infesting as many as 75 per cent of British Columbia's mature lodgepole pines, the insects have flown deep into north-central Alberta in search of more trees to ruin. The beetles are also firmly entrenched west and south of Calgary.

The tiny scourge threatens the jobs of thousands of forestry workers and the environmental health of watersheds that feed rivers that run across the prairies. And the dead and dying trees they leave in their wake will pose a significant risk of wildfire for years to come.


A decade of B.C. forestry

Beetlemania: Interior forests, overstocked with mature pine trees thanks to firefighting efforts of decades past, become overrun by mountain pine beetles. The mountain pine beetle is losing momentum, but only after spreading over some 14.5-million hectares, about four times the size of Vancouver Island.


Forest workers take up challenge

More than 500 forest workers in the Prince George area have accessed the Assessing Planning Training pilot project, funded through a $2 million federal government investment.

Participants in the program engage in everything from basic upgrading to more complex learning plans based on workers' skills and goals. The operating area for the program follows the boundaries of the Omineca beetle action coalition, stretching from Smithers to Chetwynd and south to Hixon, including the Robson Valley.

In February 2009 the USW 1-424 signed a labour market agreement with the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia to provide the funding for skills training to employed forest workers or those ineligible for employment insurance, such as independent operators, youth and women.


Barker Minerals Reports Successful Results from Natural Resources Canada Mountain Pine Beetle EM/Mag Airborne Survey

Barker Minerals Ltd. (TSX - VX: BML), is pleased to report that results have recently been released from a Geological Survey of Canada Electromagnetic (EM) and Magnetic Airborne Survey (The Cariboo Lake EM/Mag Survey) which identified significant positive results over Barker's Gold, Diamond and VMS project areas. The survey was supported by Natural Resources Canada and fully funded through the Mountain Pine Beetle program to assist in increasing the understanding of the most economically prospective rocks in British Columbia and what the best tools are to explore them. The results allow industry to target areas identified as having mineral deposits, thereby reducing financial risk.

The survey was completed on 200 metre line spacing. More detailed 100 metre line spacing coverage was completed over the Frank Creek and Ace project areas in order to be used as a template to identify other areas with similar potential. The survey area covered more than 80% of Barker's project areas. A soon to be released Natural Resources Canada Pine Beetle sponsored Radiometric/Mag Airborne survey over Barker's western project areas covers the remaining 20% of the vast Barker project areas and overlaps with the EM/Mag survey.

Barker's 100% owned mineral properties are located in the Cariboo Mining District of British Columbia approximately 80 km northeast of Williams Lake where they host excellent access and infrastructure and year round drilling can be undertaken if desired.

Wyoming Game and Fish appraise mountain pine beetles

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is taking the mountain pine beetle epidemic seriously and has written a report outlining the insect’s impact to wildlife and fishing.

Although beetle infestations are a natural part of the forest cycle, outbreaks of this magnitude have not been witnessed in recorded history, the report said.

From 1996 to 2008, more than 1.3 million acres of conifers were hit by pine beetles in the Bighorn, Shoshone, Medicine Bow and Black Hills national forests. The Medicine Bow Forest has been hit the hardest, with 460,300 acres impacted by beetles, the report said.


Clear-cuts flout forest salvage efforts: report

A stampede to harvest pine beetle-killed lumber in interior British Columbia has resulted in gaping clear-cuts that flout recommendations made at the beginning of the salvage effort in 2004, says a new report from the B.C. Forest Practices Board.

And those openings, some of which are visible in satellite images, will result in increased risks of flooding, reduced wildlife habitat and loss of biodiversity, says the head of the watchdog agency.

“It means that the risks that the chief forester was recommending we avoid, are now going to occur,” Forest Practices Board chairman Bruce Fraser said yesterday.