Beetle invasion threatens Jasper Park's forests

In the summer of 2010, Parks Canada biologist Dave Smith conducted aerial and ground surveys of three main valleys in Jasper National Park and found 400 trees that had been attacked by the mountain pine beetle.

Until then, Jasper had been one of the few regions on the east slopes of the Rockies that had not been seriously affected by this slow moving catastrophe that has destroyed million-dollar mountain views, shuttered lumber mills, dramatically intensified the threat of forest fires and reshaped British Columbia’s economy the past 15 years.

But this summer when I joined Smith and Gary Roke, a mountain pine beetle specialist with the Canadian Forest Service, they found so many trees in Jasper that had been reddened by the pine beetle that they decided that there was no use counting again; they would have to find some other way of monitoring the situation.