Ryan Zapisocki swings a leg over his skidoo, fires up the engine and rides into the forest. The snow is melting and a warm breeze is blowing through the pines, causing them to sway slowly against each other. Some needles on the trees are tinged red, others, deep auburn. He slows as he arrives at his destination: a gathering of trees marked with ribbons. These are the ones that will be cut and burned come this February.
“There are heavier infestations in the west near Jasper,” he says, leaning forward in his chair and pointing to a map on the wall. “The pine beetles in this region are coming from that direction.”
Zapisocki is a quality inspector who started checking surveyed areas last week. He and a crew of four have been contracted by Alberta Parks and Environment to help deal with the Mountain Pine Beetle.