April 30, 2007

Alberta earmarks $50M in emergency funds to fight mountain pine beetle

EDMONTON, ALTA-The Alberta government has allocated $50 million in emergency funding to continue aggressive action against the mountain pine beetle infestation in the province. The number of affected trees in Alberta jumped to an estimated three million in early 2007, up from approximately 20,000 a year earlier, following a "beetle rain" last July from populations in northeastern British Columbia. The emergency funding, included in the department of Sustainable Resource Development's 2007-08 budget, will be used specifically for control measures to remove at-risk trees and trees already killed by the beetles, and to continue surveys to detect infestations. The department's goal is to remove as many infested trees as possible before the next beetle flight this July. "The front line in the war against mountain pine beetle has moved from BC to Alberta," said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Ted Morton. Each infested tree contains enough beetles to attack five to ten more trees. At risk are six million hectares of pine forest in Alberta-about 15% of the province's total forest-as well as the viability of the province's forest industry, sustainability of communities, watersheds, crucial wildlife habitat, recreational access and tourism. Sustainable Resource Development is also implementing strategies to grow a younger, more resilient forest that will be better able to withstand wildfires and insect attacks.

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