Beetles threaten B.C. sawmills

Sawmills in the B.C. Interior will start running out of good timber within three to five years because of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, says a report on the beetle's economic impact.

The report by the International Wood Markets Group describes the beetle infestation as one of North America's largest-ever natural environmental disasters. It is projected to have a continentwide economic impact, shutting an estimated 16 Interior sawmills and removing up to half of Canada's share of the U.S. lumber market.

The pine beetle is expected to kill a billion cubic metres of timber in British Columbia and western Alberta, and while an intense salvage program has been underway for 10 years, the end of sawlog quality wood is now in sight, says the report.