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LETTER: Pine beetle on the move

By: Fred Marshall, forester and woodlot owner
While the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) has devastated central B.C. over the last few years, in the Boundary it has been moderately active but not devastating. However this moderate activity ended this spring with a significant increase in attacked trees being visible extending from the Big White summit towards Rock Creek along the Highway 33 corridor. While this spread was predicted, one can always hope that these types of predictions will not come true. Unfortunately it appears to be happening.
With this relatively new increase in MPB activity, one can expect it to continue with the infestation coalescing with existing smaller outbreaks located throughout the rest of the Boundary over the next few years.
The B.C. Timber Sales arm of the Forest Service is targeting infected or susceptible stands for harvest as are small-scale loggers and the private forest industry. Communities such as Kelowna and Prince George have had to undertake huge salvage operations within their communities to remove both lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees that were killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle.  
And, while the axiom that misery likes company may sound nice, it is little comfort to know that hundreds of communities throughout the Mid-western states are experiencing the same phenomenon as we are. It has decimated 40 million acres of forest across the Western United States over the last 10 years; it's the largest insect epidemic ever recorded in North America. In
B.C. alone the beetle has affected nearly the same amount of area.
And, because the beetles are so widespread and numerous, as are the host pine trees, there is little we can do about it other than continue the aggressive salvage. 

While every species of trees have their specific pests, most are able to fend off successful attacks via a variety of defense mechanisms. However, when the pest is either too virulent or too numerous few to no mechanisms are - or can be - effective forever. Obviously, the bark beetle is both numerous and aggressive and the pine are susceptible and dying. Such is life!