2012-06-26

Province urged to deal with restocking pine beetle forests

One million hectares of BC's timber harvest area has been damaged by the pine beetle. Now, the government is being urged to make decisions about restocking those forests.

"The mountain pine beetle has come along and created this one-time situation," says Al Gorley, chair of the Forest Practices Board.

He thinks those affected regions will eventually regenerate but, "if we don't intervene, there will be an impact. In other words, the future timber supply will be delayed or there will be less timber on those areas if we don't intervene and restock."

BC forest board raises alarm

British Columbia's independent forest practices watchdog says future timber supplies in the province are at stake and the Liberal government needs to get moving on management plans for pine beetle and fire damaged forests.

A Forest Practices Board report released Tuesday concludes up to two million hectares of Interior forests could be left insufficiently restocked for future use while the government considers replanting the forests.

"Decisions about whether to replant areas where mountain pine beetle and fire have killed most of the trees will have an impact on the future timber supply in the BC Interior," said board chairman Al Gorley in a statement following the release of the report.

B.C. mills are quickly running out of wood

On Jan. 20, Burns Lake received national attention when a horrific explosion and ensuing inferno at the local sawmill killed two mill workers, and triggered the loss of 250 high-paying jobs.

But the town itself was wrestling with deep troubles well before then. The problems were evident years ago, when the forested slopes visible from the town centre turned a rusty red, as the then-epic mountain pine beetle infestation raced through B.C.’s Interior forests.

With an estimated one billion pine trees killed by the beetles and years of accelerated logging in response to the infestation, it was only time before logging companies ran short of trees. Few people in Burns Lake or elsewhere spoke about it, however, hoping against hope that their mill, in their town, would be among the last standing.

B.C. forest board says future timber supply at risk, raises alarm about restocking forests

British Columbia's independent forest practices watchdog says future timber supplies in the province are at stake and the Liberal government needs to get moving on management plans for pine beetle and fire damaged forests.

A Forest Practices Board report released Tuesday concludes up to two million hectares of Interior forests could be left insufficiently restocked for future use while the government considers replanting the forests.

"Decisions about whether to replant areas where mountain pine beetle and fire have killed most of the trees will have an impact on the future timber supply in the B.C. Interior," said board chairman Al Gorley in a statement following the release of the report.

2012-06-24

Bark beetle kill leads to more severe fires, right? Well, maybe

The lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests of the Intermountain West are reeling under a one-two punch: more frequent and severe wildfires, and an epidemic of tree-killing bark beetles.

Once-green forests are filled with red dying trees and patches of gray dead ones. From a distance, the effect is oddly beautiful. Up close, people often experience a visceral jolt, followed by a sense of alarm: Can't somebody do something?

Steve Currey has fielded his share of anxious phone calls. "A few years ago," he says, "we were under a lot of public pressure to stop the beetles from spreading further." Currey is director of bark beetle operations on the sprawling Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in Wyoming and Colorado. The outbreak there started in northwestern Colorado in the mid-1990s and moved northeast to central Wyoming. "The beetles aren't killing every tree," Currey says, "but they are killing a majority of mature lodgepole pine, and we've lost half our limber pine, too." More than 116 million acres in the North American Rocky Mountains have been affected. "People are beginning to understand that this thing is too big to stop."

2012-06-20

Lali calls timber committee shortsighted and government posturing

MLA Harry Lali says a new special committee on timber supply needs to be expanded and made permanent if government is serious about a sustainable forestry plan.

The province's newly appointed Special Committee on Timber Supply conducted its first set of public consultations this week to gather public input on options for expanding the province's timber supply as North America's largest infestation of the mountain pine beetle continues to plunder British Columbia's largest industry.

The all-party committee suggests actions be taken to lessen the pine beetle's impact on the timber supply, including increasing harvesting areas, shifting to more area-based tenures, increasing intensive forest management, and changing timber flows.

2012-06-12

Timber panel eyes logging protected areas

A committee looking for ways to boost B.C.’s dwindling store of timber is looking at logging protected areas such as old-growth forests as one way out of a supply crunch.

Other options include cutting greater volumes of “marginally economic” timber and pumping up forest growth by using fertilizer and other intensive management techniques.

The options, included in a June 11 discussion paper of the government-appointed Special Committee on Timber Supply, come in advance of community open houses scheduled for June and July and provide more detail on plans that came to light in April, when leaked documents revealed the government was looking for ways to bolster timber supply.

2012-06-07

As trees fell in the woods, this B.C. MLA was there to hear it

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson was dubbed “Chicken Little” when he raised concerns about the future of the timber supply in his northern riding because of the mountain pine beetle.

That was eight years ago. In recent months, the B.C. Liberal government has discovered the sky is indeed falling because of the pine-beetle infestation in British Columbia. Politicians and bureaucrats are now scrambling to find a way to feed mills in the Interior and the north.

On Wednesday, a legislative committee met in Vancouver to discuss its options – essentially, to decide which rules will have to bend to keep timber flowing to the sawmills. Restrictions that protect old growth, wildlife habitat and even park boundaries are all on the table in regions where as much as 80 per cent of the potential timber is dead.

2012-06-03

Mountain pine beetle continues to be a threat

It’s a bug with a devastating effect on lodge pole pines.

Provincial forest, insect and disease expert for the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Rory McIntosh said that the mountain pine beetle was first found in British Columbia in 2000 and it has since migrated through the Rocky Mountains into Central Alberta.

Recently, mountain pine beetles have been found in the Cypress Hills region of Saskatchewan, but so far the northern forests have been safe from the pest.

2012-06-01

New website helps rural BC invest in green energy

First Nations and rural communities in B.C. looking to profit from partnerships with renewable energy companies have a new resource tool.

The new Green Energy website provides information on the economic opportunities that a boom in renewable energy is expected to provide in northern B.C.

Several run-of-river and wind power projects approved recently in B.C. have been in partnership with First Nations communities, and an industrial boom in northern B.C. is expected to provide opportunities for renewable energy projects – including biomass thermal power in areas affected by the mountain pine beetle.