Tuesday, February 16, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 7 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Half the fishermen we meet out there are committing some kind of offence.”
- Andrew Gustavson  
- on Fish and Wildlife   
enforcement issues   


While the mountain pine beetle remains a significant threat to Alberta's mature pine forests, particularly in the northern half of the province, the latest survey numbers show a steep decline in newly infested trees in the Crowsnest Pass area.
According to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, ground surveys in the Crowsnest Pass this year identified 5929 infested trees. This is a 68 percent decrease from the year before, when 18,357 infested trees were identified. Before this most recent survey, pine beetle numbers in the area had been rising steadily each year since 2006.
Forest Health Officer Brad Jones says that the sharp decline was likely caused by the sudden cold events that took place the previous winter.
"In December of 2008 we had a large drop in temperature after a really mild fall," says Jones. "Beetle mortality is greatest when there is a rapid drop in temperature before they get a chance to winterize. The drop in beetle numbers was also observed in southeast B.C. by the B.C. Ministry of Forests and by Banff National Park."
In the Kananaskis area, between the Pass and Canmore, SRD reports that the ground survey contractor underestimated the extent of the job and defaulted on its contract, leaving the survey work unfinished with 354 sites still to be surveyed. SRD crews and crews from other areas are working to complete the survey, but sites are being prioritized in order to finish survey and control work before the end of the fiscal year, March 31.
The Kananaskis surveys identified 8200 infested trees before the contractor left the work. Last year there were 17,167 trees identified.
Pine beetle control work is scheduled to begin on February 16 in the Pass and Kananaskis areas. Frontline Resources was awarded the Crowsnest Pass control contract.
Jones says that the 2009 aerial surveys ran late, causing the ground surveys to begin late. Because of this, control work is also starting later than usual. SRD intends to prioritize the control work because of this, in order control the most important and infested sites by the end of the fiscal year.
"With a huge in-flight up north and the trees fading early," says Jones, "the aerial surveys were extended until October."
Some pine beetle sites will be left uncontrolled this year due to these time constraints. The Pass Herald asked if this would have a detrimental effect on next year's pine beetle numbers.
"The beetle populations in the Crowsnest Pass area are doing so poorly," says Jones, "that the risk of leaving sites uncontrolled will have little effect on next year's numbers."
SRD also notes that the Town of Canmore, the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, and the Municipal District of Ranchlands are all participating once again in surveying private lands within their boundaries, utilizing provincial grant money. Canmore is finishing ground surveys and has seen a decrease in tree numbers, while Crowsnest Pass and Ranchlands will be starting their surveys in the near future.
In addition, SRD is working with the Stoney Nakoda and Piikani Nations to perform single tree cut and burns on small numbers of infested trees within these First Nations areas.
In the Crowsnest Pass area, this year's surveys identified 3407 infested trees in the Oldman River area, 633 in Dutch Creek, 1060 in North Crowsnest Pass, and 829 in South Crowsnest Pass. Crews surveyed just over 3600 distinct sites within the Crowsnest Pass region.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 7 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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