2013-11-27

Fighting pine beetle spread

Saskatchewan will provide up to $1.1 million over the next year as part of a partnership agreement with Alberta to help prevent the spread of the mountain pine beetle into northern forests. The two provinces will collaborate for a third year on the removal of beetle-infested trees in eastern Alberta.

“As we’ve seen, the mountain pine beetle has no regard for provincial boundaries, making a regional strategy essential,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “The leading edge of the infestation is now at our doorstep, making this agreement with Alberta a critical measure in preventing the mountain pine beetle from becoming established in Saskatchewan’s northern pine forest.”

The mountain pine beetle outbreak has killed more than half of British Columbia’s lodgepole pine forests. Seven years ago, the infestation crossed the Rocky Mountains, spreading halfway across Alberta. Research shows that jack pine forests in northern Saskatchewan and across Canada are also at risk.

2013-11-15

Fort St. James biomass project on track with financing

One of four wood-fired power plants approved in 2011 under a BC Hydro program to use mountainpine-beetle-killed timber in British Columbia's interior has lined up construction financing, aiming to deliver electricity onto the provincial grid by the summer of 2016.

Fort St. James Green Energy LP, a partnership between Dalkia Canada Inc., a subsidiary of a French power firm, and Fengate Capital Management Ltd. said Thursday that it had closed a $175-million debt financing to support construction of the 40-megawatt, $235-million biomass power plant outside of the interior town it is named for.

"I think overall we did well," said Dalkia senior vice-president Fadi Oubari. "We managed to put together experienced bankers, experienced lenders who liked the project, who liked the biomass (available to support it) and the benefits its going to bring to the area."

2013-11-14

It’s a love trap, baby: Synthetic pheromone helps scientists provoke pine beetle mania

The mountain pine beetles destroying Canada’s boreal forests may be eradicated by luring them into deadly love traps.

Scientists at the University of Alberta are using pheromones as bait to capture the lovesick insects before they can ravage strands of lodgepole and jack pine.

“When the female releases a pheromone, hundreds of beetles congregate,” Nadir Erbilgin, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Forest Entomology, said. “It is a very effective tool for communicating.”

2013-11-12

Pine beetle leads to future timber harvesting reduction in 100 Mile House region

Despite the recent market upturn for forestry, the consequences of the mountain pine beetle epidemic continue to be felt in British Columbia’s Interior region.

The B.C. government announced changes to the 100 Mile House timber supply area today, stating the amount of trees that can be logged will stay the same for now, but will be cut in half in the next five years.

The current annual allowable cut (AAC) for the 100 Mile House timber supply area (TSA) will remain at 2 million cubic metres for the next five years.

2013-11-05

Houston, B.C., is next pine-beetle victim

Over the past 12 years, the mountain pine-beetle epidemic in B.C. has prompted a series of action plans, action coalitions, task forces, investment strategies and emergency response teams. In the time it has taken to destroy more than half of the province’s commercially valuable pine timber, the beetle has also consumed more than $1-billion in government funds.

Now, as the community of Houston, in the province’s northern Interior, grapples with the closing of the town’s lumber mill, the mayor says his community is unprepared for its post-beetle future. “A lot of money was spent on action plans,” Mayor Bill Holmberg said in an interview Monday. “We haven’t really seen the rubber hit the road.”

The money has gone to airport expansions, highway repaving, bio-energy research projects and what critics say is routine reforestation. A trio of community-based Beetle Action Coalitions handed out provincial grant money. The Anahim Lake Airport got $515,000 to build a terminal. The village of McBridge received $52,000 to develop and promote walking trails. In Houston, there was $10,050 for a “geo-exchange energy-system monitoring plan.”

2013-11-04

Pine beetle blamed for mill closures in the north

West Fraser Timber Company is blaming the pine beetle for the closure of its Houston sawmill. The company ‘announced a ‘comprehensive Mountain Pine Beetle Plan (the “MPB Plan”)’ to address the effects of the mountain pine beetle infestation in the interior of British Columbia.

The company states that the infestation has killed vast portions of the interior pine forest, resulting in a continuing deterioration and loss of merchantable timber available to wood products producers in the interior of B.C. West Fraser says the goal of their MPB Plan is to ‘ensure the viability and competitiveness’ of its B.C. operations in response to the lack of available timber supply following the beetle infestation.

Further south, Canfor announced the closure of its mill in Quesnel for the same reason. Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor Corporation, said the closure of the Quesnel mill is permanent. “The timber availability in the Quesnel region following the mountain pine beetle infestation unfortunately leaves us unable to continue operation of our Quesnel sawmill,” he said in a written statement.