Beetle battle expands

Residents living in a subdivision surrounded by Crown land 60 km west of Rocky Mountain House can expect to see some trees knocked down to prevent pine beetle infestation, says a forester.

Residents living in a subdivision surrounded by Crown land 60 km west of Rocky Mountain House can expect to see some trees knocked down to prevent pine beetle infestation, says a forester.

Tom Daniels, community forester for Sundre Forest Products, said a meeting was held this week in Rocky Mountain House to let residents of Misty Valley know of the company’s plans for harvesting trees.

The clear cutting is taking place in response to a government strategy to stop the beetles from killing more trees in the region and beyond.

Foresters believe that if pine beetles aren’t contained and minimized along the Eastern Slopes, then the rice-sized black beetles will spread eastward into the boreal forests of lodgepole-jack pine hybrid and jack pine.

They have a voracious appetite and tend to survive better in older pine stands.

“We will be harvesting, potentially over the next 20 years,” said Daniels.

Harvesting around Misty Valley is set to begin in 2011, but if the mountain pine beetles show up in the area, that target date will be pushed up, Daniels said.

Daniels said the company could be clear-cutting older pines all the way up to Misty Valley’s fenceline.

About 20 people attended the meeting so they could give input into how the company should harvest in the area.

“There are different times of the year to harvest,” Daniels said. Trees can be taken out in a series of cuts over a longer period or more can be removed in a quicker time.

Having a subdivision surrounded by Crown land isn’t unique, according to Daniels.

When people buy, they have full knowledge that forestry, oil and gas and other industrial development can occur on the federal lands, Daniels said.

It’s up to the developer to inform the land purchaser of what may happen, Daniels said.

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