Feds give $68.4-million boost to fight against Alberta’s mountain pine beetle infestation

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Of the new funds announced Thursday, $60 million will go to the Alberta government for expanding ground and aerial surveillance, beetle control work which includes removing infected trees, and for new research. Parks Canada will receive $6.9 million for handling infestation and reducing wildfire risks in parks in the Rocky Mountains, and $1.9 million will go to the federal Canadian Forest Service to fund research on pest management, and the risk of spreading east.

“These three actions will help protect our forests, protect jobs and protect companies and those Alberta communities that are dependent on our forests,” O’Regan said.

The mountain pine beetle kills trees by clogging and destroying tissue inside the tree by infecting them with a blue-staining fungus. Beetles colonize the trees, boring inside to lay eggs, and larvae eat further into the tree.

Outbreaks are linked to climate change as the insects don’t do well in cold temperatures. Warmer temperatures in the summer and winter, and an abundance of mature trees, contributed to the epidemics in the 1990s and 2000s in B.C., which then spread east into Alberta.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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