2011-02-24

CU comes to town March 18 with beetle talk

CU-Boulder comes to town on March 18 as part of an outreach tour in the Central Rocky Mountains. The topic is near if not dear to Summit County residents' hearts: the pine beetle.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center in Breckenridge, Chancellor Philip DiStefano and professor Jeffry Mitton host a presentation titled “Causes and Consequences: Colorado and the Pine Beetle.” The talk is about the unprecedented epidemic of mountain pine beetles that has taken over forests in the Mountain West, with some discussion of why it's occurring.

Mitton is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and has focused his and his doctoral graduate assistant Scott Ferrenberg's research on the bark beetle.

2011-02-21

Gore says Colorado must face fact bark beetle devastation is linked to global climate change

Forty years ago this spring, Al Gore first felt the magic of the forests around here. He had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and decided to motor west from his home in Tennessee.

“I put a tent in the trunk of my Chevrolet Impala and drove to the White River National Forest, no kidding, and camped there,” the former U.S. vice president told a room packed with cultural, scientific and political leaders at the Aspen Institute on Friday night. “In the following years I came back and I’ve been back many times since – not camping – but I have my own relationship with the forests here.”

A lot has changed since then.

2011-02-15

Softwood comes lumbering back

The U.S. housing collapse saw to it that the forest industry missed out on recent price spikes affecting other commodities. But that is about to change, according to some analysts' reports. Vancouver–based consulting firm International Wood Markets is predicting standard–dimension lumber will soar from a low of US$180 per thousand board feet in 2009 to $500–plus by 2013 or 2014, the result of a housing recovery in the U.S. coupled with rising demand in China and supply constraints brought on by the mountain pine beetle infestation in British Columbia. What's more, it could spell an end to the decades–old softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.

Canada's sleeping giant of a forest industry is already showing signs of awakening, especially for B.C. operators with their foot in the door of the Chinese market. While exports to the U.S. recovered somewhat to nine billion board feet in 2010 (from a low of 7.5 billion a year earlier), exports to China jumped 75% to a projected 2.8 billion board feet worth $660 million.

That's just a hint of how big a market China could become, B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell enthused at a speech following a trip to China last fall. There were about 600,000 housing starts in the U.S. last year; China is building 10 times that many over the next three years under its affordable housing initiative alone, he noted.

BC gives $260,000 for forest research at TRU

The B.C. government is providing $260,000 to further research at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) into parasitic plants that attack coniferous forests in B.C., Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong announced last week.

The funding award is being provided through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and used to acquire an advanced scanning electron microscope for research dedicated to controlling dwarf mistletoe, a plant parasite that infects trees and in the case of lodgepole pine, makes the trees more susceptible to pine beetle infestations.

“This funding award will enable researchers at Thompson Rivers University to continue their important work into finding innovative new ways to manage and protect the health of our forests,” said Chong. “It provides important support for Thompson Rivers University, as its scientists continue to build a tradition of research excellence that benefits all British Columbians.”

2011-02-14

BC gives $260,000 for forest research at TRU

The B.C. government is providing $260,000 to further research at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) into parasitic plants that attack coniferous forests in B.C., Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong announced last week.

The funding award is being provided through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and used to acquire an advanced scanning electron microscope for research dedicated to controlling dwarf mistletoe, a plant parasite that infects trees and in the case of lodgepole pine, makes the trees more susceptible to pine beetle infestations.

“This funding award will enable researchers at Thompson Rivers University to continue their important work into finding innovative new ways to manage and protect the health of our forests,” said Chong. “It provides important support for Thompson Rivers University, as its scientists continue to build a tradition of research excellence that benefits all British Columbians.”

2011-02-09

Beetles declining

A tough winter seems to have taken its toll on the mountain pine beetle in the Kananaskis area, says an expert from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Brad Jones, a forest health officer with SRD, said ground surveys have indicated a sharp reduction in beetle populations, something the government agency had hoped for some time. Those studies have indicated that only 101 trees have been afflicted with the small beetle, a large drop from past years.

Jones said the reduction can be attributed to two factors — steady work by the government in eliminating infested trees that could have created a resident population and cold weather that killed the beetle.

2011-02-03

Inadequate reforestation goes from bad to worse

British Columbia is blessed by nature with a vast, ecologically rich forest estate that also has been a source of sustained economic wealth for more than a century. But today there are troubling signs that the most important of natural assets is facing challenges never before seen.

The area of inadequately restocked or reforested land is larger than at any point in the history of forest management in the province and is estimated to be around nine million hectares, with about half attributable to the mountain pine beetle infestation.

In fact, this area known in forestry parlance as NSR or Not Satisfactorily Restocked is nearly three times greater than it was 25 years ago when the provincial and federal governments embarked on concerted efforts to address what was then a reforestation challenge of the first order.