2010-05-31

B.C. native leaders call for wildfire aid

The B.C. First Nations Forestry Council says communities are still looking for the fire prevention help they were promised.

The council says of 103 communities in B.C.'s wildfire region, only 39 have special strategies in place and none have been able to complete the job of removing dead timber to create a firebreak.

Council president Chief Bill Williams said the council drafted a plan to mitigate the risk of wildfires more than two years ago.


2010-05-28

Small but destructive!

The Mountain Pine Beetle is a small insect, less than a centimetre long, but it is the most destructive pest of mature pine forests in North America.

Beetles have already destroyed millions of lodgepole pine in British Columbia and have been moving into Alberta.

“From 2006 to 2008 our situation in the Lesser Slave Area was looking pretty good,” said Dale Thomas, Forest Health Officer with Sustainable Resource Development, “we were controlling about 3,500 trees per year.


2010-05-24

Cash woes stall wildfire protection at B.C. native reserves

A federal program to fight British Columbia’s unprecedented mountain pine beetle infestation has wrapped up, marking the end of a $400-million commitment that funded everything from brush removal to airport runways.

But projects to reduce the threat of wildfires by clearing brush around remote native communities are far from finished – and are stalling over a lack of money to carry them out, the head of the First Nations Forestry Council says.

Both the B.C. and federal governments have contributed funds to native fuel-management projects, but the bulk of the money has come through Ottawa’s mountain pine beetle program. That program concluded in March after contributing a total of $10.6-million since 2007 to fuel-management programs in native communities.


2010-05-19

Campsites' opening teetering amid threat of beetle-damaged trees

When a beetle-killed tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, federal foresters barely flinch.

But when millions fall — an estimated 100,000 each day — foresters begin shutting down campgrounds.

"It's a dangerous situation," said Mary Ann Chambers, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service's Bark Beetle Incident Management Organization at regional headquarters west of Denver.


2010-05-14

Lakeland Lands Contract to Supply Bio Mass To UNBC

Lakeland Mills has signed a five year contract with the University of Northern B.C. to provide wood waste for the bioenergy facility at UNBC.

The Lakeland sawmill uses trees that mostly originate from an area within a 70 km radius of Prince George. Currently, trees killed by the mountain pine beetle account for about three-quarters of the mill’s intake. Lakeland is one of the operations in the Sinclar Group, which also controls wood processing facilities in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

"Sinclar Group Forest Products, through its Lakeland Mills operation, is excited to be working with UNBC to supply hog fuel for the Nexterra gasification system,” says Greg Stewart, Sinclar President. “We have been operating in Prince George since 1962 and remain committed to promoting community development. Sinclar Group is proud to support the university in furthering its position as Canada's Green University while establishing Northern British Columbia as a bioenergy centre of excellence."


2010-05-12

Mining Potential in Beetle-infested Regions of Central B.C.

In search of economic diversification amid the devastating mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation in central British Columbia, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) launched the Geoscience for Mountain Pine Beetle Program in the spring of 2007.

The program, which ended in March, leaves a legacy of data, maps and new information that is helping exploration companies find undiscovered mineral and energy deposits.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested $400 million in the Mountain Pine Beetle Program to lessen the impact of the infestation on the forest-dependent communities of central B.C. Of that amount, $6 million was committed to the Geoscience for MPB Program to stimulate private sector investment in mineral, oil and gas exploration. As part of the program, state-of-the-art ground and airborne geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys were conducted in the region.


2010-05-10

Making the Most of an Ecological Disaster: The Pine Beetle Kill

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent flooding in Tennessee have underscored the devastating financial impact of ecological disasters. Some U.S. communities have tried to actually learn from similar events and rebuild their damaged economies.

The Rocky Mountain West, from Mexico up to British Columbia in Canada, has been under siege for several years now from an intruder the size of a grain of rice. The mountain pine beetle has infested and killed tens of millions of acres of trees, creating public safety hazards and forest fires of epic proportions.

Last December, the U.S. Forest Service committed $40 million dollars to clear more than 2.5 million acres of forest affected by the beetle.


2010-05-08

Mountain pine beetle is Alberta's eco-disaster

As Albertans we might not have an oil slick the size of Luxembourg heading our way as do the beleaguered folk along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

However, we do have an environmental disaster that has already washed up on our shores, so to speak, and is moving inland with unnerving speed. Communities in its path couldn't be more scared if they were Biloxi, Miss., or Mobile, Ala., watching their coastline turn black.

Our disaster is the mountain pine beetle: Mother Nature's chainsaw.


2010-05-07

Drought forecast for much of B.C.: Environment Minister

Lower than average snowpacks throughout most of the province will result in a water shortage this summer, B.C.'s environment ministry said Friday.

Wet weather in May and June could reduce the risk, but for now the ministry is saying the peak of the winter's snowpack has accumulated and the melt has begun. Snow packs have declined in most areas during April as a result of drier than normal weather.

With the exception of high-elevation areas on Vancouver Island and the South Coast, snowpacks across B.C. are all below normal. Snowpacks in the South Interior (Nicola, Okanagan, Similkameen, West Kootenay, East Kootenay, Lower Columbia) and in the Northwest Interior (Skeena, Nass) are substantially below normal.

Beetle to ignite market shift

A beetle infestation in British Columbia's forests is expected to plunge timber harvests in that province by 30 per cent in the next decade, igniting a market shift that will send lumber prices soaring, analysts say.

Lumber production in the most western province is expected to begin slowing down in 2015, according to the Vancouver-based consulting and publishing firm International Wood Products Group Inc.

Supply shortages could ultimately bring 16 major sawmill operations to a grinding halt by 2018 - with more to follow, the group predicts.

2010-05-05

Traveller safety improved

The extension of a passing lane and intersection improvements near Fraser Lake will improve traffic flow and increase safety for the travelling public, thanks to the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund for the Highway 16 - Holy Cross Passing Lane project.

“The extension of the Holy Cross east bound passing lane on Highway 16 will allow passenger vehicles to safely pass slower-moving industrial and recreational traffic in the climbing lane,” said Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “This project will reduce traveller frustration, eliminate unsafe passing and will also be better for the environment.”

With the harvest of the mountain pine beetle-impacted pine, there are a high number of industrial trucks accessing the highway east of Fraser Lake, either off the Holy Cross Forest Service Road or entering the highway from the local mills. The Fraser Lake area also enjoys a relatively high number of tourists during the summer months. By improving traffic flow and reducing delays on the highway, safety is improved and reduce vehicle emissions will be reduced.

2010-05-02

Adopt a tree, banish a bug

The bright white flagging tape tied around the towering ponderosa pines on public lands here are a push for victory, not a sign of surrender.

For the past few years, residents and recreationalists have watched in dismay as the majestic pine trees on Bureau of Reclamation lands died and turned red from the mountain pine beetle infestation.

Like many of their West Shore and East Shore neighbors, Brenda and Ken Price and Don Johnson had treated their private properties with insecticides and chemicals to repel the rice-sized beetle, but felt frustrated that they couldn’t do anything to help the trees on nearby public lands.

2010-05-01

Pine Beetles Now Chewing on Ranching Sector

The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae, MPB) epidemic in British Columbia already has the ignominious distinction of being the largest recorded forest pest outbreak in the world. History may also record that these insatiable tree miners also chewed a swath through the province’s ranching industry.

According to the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, the infestation has encompassed a cumulative area of over 16.3 million ha and has impacted more than 675 million cubic metres of timber. To put this in perspective, the area of MPB infestation now considerably exceeds that of the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

This has created unprecedented challenges for the forest industry and the communities that depend on forest sector jobs and tax revenues. In addition, directly and indirectly, the pine beetle is straining an already battered livestock sector.

Functional genomics of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) midguts and fat bodies

The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is a significant coniferous forest pest in western North America. It relies on aggregation pheromones to colonize hosts. Its three major pheromone components, trans-verbenol, exo-brevicomin, and frontalin, are thought to arise via different metabolic pathways, but the enzymes involved have not been identified or characterized. We produced ESTs from male and female midguts and associated fat bodies and used custom oligonucleotide microarrays to study gene expression patterns and thereby made preliminary identification of pheromone-biosynthetic genes.