2011-07-26

$1 million goes to bio-coal project slated for Kamloops

The Innovative Clean Energy Fund — the same government program that funded Aboriginal Cogeneration Corporation’s gasification proposal — has granted $1 million to a “bio-coal” production plant in Kamloops.

Nations Energy Corporation, a Vancouver company, will use the funds to build a commercial-scale plant to convert mountain pine beetle wood into clean-burning biomass.

Using a process known as torrefaction — a thermochemical process — and densification, the wood is made more energy dense. The product, fuel pellets, can be used at power stations and in boilers and cement kilns as an alternative to coal.

2011-07-22

Studies in on mountain pine beetle populations

You might have felt as if this past winter almost killed you, but it did manage to kill off some of the mountain pine beetle populations.

The lack of chinooks was good news for reducing mountain pine beetle (MPB).

Mountain pine beetle populations experienced varying degrees of over-winter survival in Alberta in 2010-11, ranging from moderate to high survival in the northwest and central parts of the province to declining populations along the eastern edge of the infestation and in the southwest.

2011-07-19

Studies in on mountain pine beetle populations

You might have felt as if this past winter almost killed you, but it did manage to kill off some of the mountain pine beetle populations.

The lack of chinooks was good news for reducing mountain pine beetle (MPB).

Mountain pine beetle populations experienced varying degrees of over-winter survival in Alberta in 2010-11, ranging from moderate to high survival in the northwest and central parts of the province to declining populations along the eastern edge of the infestation and in the southwest.

2011-07-14

Rancher questions logging policies

The B.C. Cattlemen’s Association and the NDP forest critic have lined up behind one Big Creek rancher who believes the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ policies for logging in the area are extreme and damaging his livelihood.

Randy Saugstad says during the spring months run off due to nearby clearcuts wreaked havoc on his operation.

He blames forestry legislation, the pine beetle epidemic and a push to cut beetle-kill trees while they are still economically viable, and the economy for what he’s seen occur on nearby Crown land.

2011-07-13

Mountain pine beetle numbers down in southwestern Alberta

The winter was hard on mountain pine beetles throughout southwestern Alberta, with low survival rates recorded by the province.

Areas outside the national park were tracked by Sustainable Resource Development, and found while milder temperatures allowed beetles to survive more readily in the northwestern area of the province, colder weather further south helped slow their spread.

"I suspect that in the south they had a combination of cold temperatures and not enough snow on the ground," said Dr. Allan Carroll, an associate professor in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

Beetle survives winter, minister wants federal help

The effect of last winter on mountain pine beetles was disappointingly small and it's time for the whole country to contribute to fighting them, says Mel Knight, the Sustainable Resource Minister.

In audio clips released along with a press release Thursday, July 8, Knight said, "What I am looking for now is some consideration from our neighbouring provinces to the east particularly Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario and the federal government."

There needs to be in my opinion an understanding, and I believe there is an understanding that once the pine beetles actually breach what we think is an opportunity here for us to create a beetle sink in this part of Alberta, control and manage these beetles over the next decade or so and bring them down to numbers that we can manage, we are going to have an understanding that there is a major threat to the boreal forest across Canada.

Pine beetle a serious concern in Alberta: SRD

According to a survey done by Sustainable Resource Development Alberta, north-western Alberta's Mountain Pine Beetle population is on the rise.

Surveys took place from May to mid-June at 249 sites, and 1,624 trees across the province.

These surveys showed high to extremely high survival in half of the sites, and moderately high survival in the rest, and this does not take into account beetles flying in from British Columbia and other areas of Alberta.

2011-07-12

Beetle mortality rates updated

The survival rate of the mountain pine beetle in southwest Alberta — including the Cochrane area — was the lowest in the province, according to results from mortality surveys released July 7.

But officials warn the fight in this area is not over while regions in the north face increased infestations.

“There are some small pockets of good news on the mountain pine beetle front lines this year, but overall the infestations remain a challenge to Alberta and we must continue our aggressive action to protect forest health in the province,” said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight in a release.

2011-07-11

Inexpensive alternative in beetle-kill lumber

The gradual recovery of the building and remodeling industries is being slowed by high prices for lumber. However, there is a plentiful, sustainable alternative in beetle-kill wood that needs more government and consumer support.

The US Census Bureau reported 20 percent more new construction in March 2010 over March 2009. However, Associated Builders and Contractors, a construction trade group, reported higher costs for materials for all that new construction.

Lumber prices jumped 11 percent in the first quarter of 2010, and 24 percent from March 2009 to March 2010. Random Lengths, which closely tracks North American lumber prices and sets futures prices, releases a weekly average price for 1,000 board-feet of lumber. The price reached $353 on April 16, the highest price since May 2006.

2011-07-09

Bugs a growing threat to forests, US reports

Marauding insects have become a leading threat to the nation's forests over the past decade, a problem made worse by drought and a warming climate, a federal report says.

Bark beetles, engraver beetles and gypsy moths are the primary culprits behind a threefold increase in forestland mortality caused by insect attacks between 2003 and 2007, according to a U.S. Forest Service report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The volume of forests in the lower 48 states killed by bugs totaled 37 million acres during the period, up from 12 million during the previous five years. Millions of additional acres have perished since.

Photos

2011-07-08

Some success against Alberta’s pine Beetle

Alberta had some success this winter holding the line on the mountain pine beetle, but is looking for help to keep the rapacious, forest-killing critter from going national.

“The initial attack on this thing is a provincial responsibility,” Mel Knight, minister of sustainable resource development, told a news conference Thursday.

“But as we look at the map and see the potential for these beetles to move across boundaries and get into the northern boreal forest, there’s going to have to be more effort applied.”

Beetles winning battle

The Peace County is experiencing a ballooning Mountain Pine Beetle population according to Sustainable Resource Development data.

Over-winter mortality survey results released Thursday show Grande Prairie and the majority of northwestern Alberta are in the midst of a growing population of the tiny beetle.

"The areas around Grande Prairie and then moving north in through the Peace Country and all the way up even into (the) Rainbow Lake area, overall, there was a higher rate of beetle success in this area," said SRD senior forest health manager Mike Undershultz. "This indicates an increasing population."

Alberta sees mixed results in pine beetle battle

Alberta reported mixed results on Thursday in its battle with the mountain pine beetle, with six million hectares of forest in the western Canadian province susceptible to attack.

Milder winter temperatures allowed more beetles to survive in northwestern Alberta, which also remained at risk of continued migration of beetles from British Columbia, Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development Ministry said.

The situation remained stable in central Alberta.

Alberta government wants other provinces and Ottawa to help fight pine beetle infestation

It’s time for the federal government and other provinces to help Alberta hold the line against the mountain pine beetle, Sustainable Resource Development Minister Mel Knight says.

“This is an extremely serious situation for Alberta and it’s getting to be an issue that’s of serious concern and high risk to the boreal forest east of us as well,” Knight said Thursday.

“We are going to ask for this to be looked at as a bit of a shared responsibility for us to manage this thing inside of Alberta to the best of our ability.”