With the dry summers and mild winters of late, the spruce beetle continues to threaten forests in the Omineca region. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations teamed up with forest professionals, communities and organizations to create the BC Spruce Beetle Mitigation Strategy.
210,000 hectares of forest in the Omineca region are currently impacted by the spruce beetle. That’s up about 60,000 hectares from 2015.
“It’s a two year life cycle for the larva, and then the beetle flies and then it lays it’s egg,” says the Chair for the Omineca Action Coalition, Bill Miller. “That’s only normally a two year cycle. Well when we get the right weather conditions it can actually get into where it’s a one year cycle.”
Miller says the bug has become a problem of national interest. “We are seeing that kind of rise; not that level we are seeing in the Mackenzie region, but it is picking up in all of our regions. There has been a noticeable increase in Northern Alberta, some of the States and to the west of the Omineca as well.”
According to the Minister of Public Safety/Solicitor General, Mike Morris, efforts have been really focused in the past few months. “Spruce beetle is a different bug all together than the mountain pine beetle. The strategy involves working with licensees to find the best methods to get it to where the leading edge of the spruce beetle infestation.”
The strategy can only do so much though. “Climate is probably the only thing that is really going to help us out here, if we get some colder winters,” says Morris. “We can try and do whatever we can to mitigate by harvesting and whatnot. At the same time, we are relying on mother nature to help us out a bit too.”