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October 27, 2017 7:14 pm

Spruce Beetle Strategy for Region

Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Areas in red are locations of Spruce beetle, with highest concentration in the Prince George to Mackenzie region. Map courtesy Gov. of B.C.

Prince George, B.C.- The newest threat to  forests in B.C. is the Spruce  Beetle,  and  various stakeholders have worked with the Province in the development of a strategy to minimize its impact.

The new strategy lays out five areas on how  stakeholders will approach the outbreak across the Omineca region:

  • co-ordinate effective planning and implementation of mitigation measures †
  • safeguard non-timber values †
  • prevent or reduce damage to ecosystems in areas that are susceptible to (but not yet experiencing) spruce beetle outbreaks †
  • recover the greatest value from dead spruce timber before it decays or is damaged by wildfires †
  • restore forest resources in areas affected by spruce beetle outbreak.

The most recent mapping of  the Omineca region ( which includes Prince George and Mackenzie)  indicates about 210 thousand hectares of forest  have been impacted by  spruce beetles but there is progress being made  says  Spruce Beetle Manager Heather Weibe “We have a couple of things that are working for us right now.   We have an excellent mapping process that shows us where we are.  The aerial overview flights ,  all the heli-work we’ve done,  we’ve done almost 80 hours of   helicopter work in Mackenzie, and all the ground surface information , we are able to put all of that information in one location.  So that’s   fantastic.”

While there may be 210 thousand hectares infested  with  spruce beetle,  not all of that forest is part of the timber harvest land base,  or in specific wildlife habitat areas.  Weibe says she is very encouraged by the fact licensees are  doing detailed planning on the areas  that  will be the focus of harvesting  “They really  understand where they need to go,  and are able to describe to decision makers where  they’re going,  when they’re  going   and how they are going to treat those  areas.” says Weibe, “We are really getting a  fine focus on where  efforts should be concentrated in an effort to be the most  successful”.

At risk is the mid term  timber supply  that is crucial to the forest industry in the wake  of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, but the  “fine focus” is not just  about merchantable timber adds Weibe “A priority forest is not only the  dollars and  cents that come out of the forest, but the other values (such as ecosystems) we  are trying  to protect and mitigate  during this outbreak”.

Spruce beetle outbreaks are not new in B.C. but the current  situation  has been exacerbated by  climate change,  as  warmer winters allow the beetle to have multiple life cycles  and that means more areas of  the province will see spruce beetle and bark beetle outbreaks.

One of the methods to mitigate  the  spread of the spruce beetle is the use of trap trees, where a  fallen spruce ( a preferred host for the beetle) is left to collect as many beetles as possible.  It’s a method Weibe says has  produced positive results “They are  working fantastic.  This summer (2016) we had  really good results in Mackenzie where  you were able to see the trap trees were full  of spruce beetle,  and the spruce trees standing beside the trap tree   were absolutely healthy and  repelling any attacks that were there.  So trap trees  are working really well.”

She says this is the  time of year when licensees are  planning  on  where trap trees will be placed for the upcoming year. “All this information  will help put them ( trap trees) down  in the most  useful places.”

But even with a  clear strategy Weibe says there is a long road ahead “We are in the middle of it now,  there’s places in the  Province where the numbers are just starting to rise, the Pine  Pass has some  spruce beetle (numbers) rising in it,  down in Burns Lake they’re seeing some small pockets  rise  as well.  These are the places where  trap trees will work well because those populations are just starting to emerge.”

Still, she  is optimistic “We’ve got the right way forward,  we’ve got the right processes that will be  able to benefit across the Province  from what we’ve learned here in Omineca and Omineca is well  focused to  mitigate impacts.”


Really??? dollar late and a dollar short, more strategies more meetings. What a sick joke.

    I was envolved with the pine Beetle epidemic, same thing! Every time the gov’t clowns got envolved it created red tape which created non action on the beetles., the beetles had a hay day! Not going to change regardless of what they spout. Red Tape continues!

      You talking pine beetle and NDP?

      And now we are talking about a Spruce Beetle epidemic and the BC Liberals, ironic, is it not?

      A lot of people like to blame the NDP for the extent of the pine infestation because they wouldn’t take action when it was confined to Tweedsmuir Park. It’s true that they may have been able to stop it had they done so, but that would only have been a postponement. Beetle outbreaks by the 10’s of thousands were popping up all over the province. It was only a matter of time before there was a “critical mass” type of situation somewhere in the province, and time was rapidly running out anyway.

Just glad to see they’re getting on it.

Can’t say as I blame Heather for trying to paint a positive picture of this very bad situation for our forest industry, one would think the government would hire the brightest minds to assess, and predict, pest risks caused by climate change and warmer winters, BEFORE those pest populations explode.

I am frustrated that this government always seems to be reacting to pest outbreaks, instead of getting ahead of the game to work on preventing pest outbreaks. Mountain Pine Beetle, now the Spruce Beetle, what’s next?

    Yep, they need to hire a bunch of summer students to run around with butterfly nets and catch those pesky bugs in flight… You have all the answers, better call up the Forest Minister and let them know

    A big part of the problem when it comes to taking action, is the refusal to acknowledge the cause of these outbreaks. If your analysis of the cause is wrong, chances are your treatment will be wrong too. There was a spruce beetle outbreak in the Herrick area northeast of PG about 20 years ago. By the time all the government red tape and consultations were done, it was 9 years, the infestation has petered out and the trees were useless for the mills.

    It’s politically correct and environmentally correct to blame anything and everything on global warming (er – scratch that, no warming for 20 years) CLIMATE CHANGE, including the bugs, but that’s not the cause. It’s caused by an overabundance of Old, old trees in the forests, caused to some extent by the fact that we’ve been fighting forest fires for 100 years. The older the tree, the weaker and more vulnerable to bug attack.

    Prevent pest outbreaks? How? Well we could log all the trees, or burn all the forests, that would do it. What else? Nothing, the trees are old and getting older and weaker.

    Mountain pine beetle, now the spruce beetle? Are you not old enough to remember the spruce beetle outbreak that started in the Bowron in 1977 and raged until 1985 when it was finally halted by a rare October cold snap of -36? I guess you missed the hemlock looper infestation that devastated a vast area between here and McBride. What’s next? More of the same, until the old trees are greatly reduced in number.

It is my understanding they are setting these trap trees and then not going out to collect them when they are full of beetles.

    Did trap trees for pine beetles too, but ya gotta take all the trees down, even then it could be a band aid solution. I remember taking out trap trees and the infected areas, did not stop them, only slowed them down. The only thing to save the trees would have been -40, didn’t happen. Pine beetle that is.

Every insect is attracted to something, these beetles obviously reproduce, does the female give off some kind of odors or a scent that can be reproduced artificially? I must admit I am a bit out of my element on this topic, but this kind of thing has been done before attracting male insects with the scent of a female?

    The do give off pheromones that have been synthesized and used it traps. These traps are mostly used in log yards which are great incubators for the larvae. The forest companies do what they can, harvesting infested trees, milling infested wood as soon as possible and setting traps near their log decks, but in order to have any meaningful effect on the infestation, there would have to be some way to kill them in the forests. There isn’t.

      Used IN traps, dang-it!

I don’t really know BH. If you ever get your head between their legs, let us know if they send off an odor!

    I can appreciate my research on other topics, in search of the facts and truth, may not appeal to you, but get used to it ohreally, I am going to keep it up until election day!

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