Last stand in B.C. beetle battle

As MLAs resumed their raucous legislature arguments over a municipal auditor-general, the B.C. government’s own watchdog cut through the noise with a devastating audit of the state of Crown forests.

Auditor General John Doyle’s survey of the province’s vast forest comes at a critical time. A team of forest ministry experts is examining the situation at Burns Lake, to see if the Babine Lake Forest Products sawmill can be rebuilt, after a tragic explosion and fire on Jan. 20.

Babine was one of a string of high-volume mills along Highway 16 in northwestern B.C. that have been working their way through the enormous stock of decaying pine that surrounds them. The “shelf life” of these trees is estimated to extend to 2019, but that’s a best-case scenario. In reality the expanse affected by pest and disease is much more complex.