Mountain pine beetle update
Russell Macdonald, an Area Forester at the Slave Lake Forest Area, gave a quick update about efforts to combat the mountain pine beetle infestation. Macdonald said contracts have started on Nov. 29 to start combat efforts. There will be approximately 2,000 sites surveyed and the province estimates that up to 17,000 trees will be controlled.
Macdonald said he does not know if the mountain pine beetle population has gone up or down.
Wildfire information officer Leah Lovequist provided an update on wildfire activities in the area.
She said there were 124 wildfires. She called that a quiet year and most of the damage was done in one fire. This year has been lower than the five-year average both locally and provincially. The average is 187.
Lovequist credited this year’s frequent rain as the reason for there being fewer fires.
Alberta sent out 750 firefighters to both the U.S. and British Columbia to combat forest fires in those areas. Approximately 450 of the 750 were from Slave Lake. Lovequist explained that this doesn’t mean 750 people were sent. Personnel were counted multiple times based on how many times they were deployed. She explained that more staff was sent out because it was a quiet year.
These fire fighters were paid for their effort. Alberta has an agreement with the other provinces. Lovequist said Alberta firefighters were happy to help in British Columbia because of all the help the province has given Alberta in the past.
She said there is still winter burning being reported but a permit is not actually needed. She recommended that burning be done when the ground is frozen and to go back and probe the area when the fire is done to make sure it is out.
Forest Management Plan update
Ted Gooding, Partner and Senior Consultant at FORCORP Solutions, updated the committee on the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Forest Management Plan. The plan is due in 2020 and there is a lot that needs to be done.
The Forest Management Plan (FMP) will provide direction for the harvesting of timber over a 10 year period. This can give an idea of what area will be harvested for timber in the next 10 year and potentially 10 years after that.
The FMP doesn’t just focus on timber harvest. Non-timber values are also considered. Non-timber values include the impacts on water, impacts on wildlife and their habitats as well as how the forest is used. Recreational use is taken into account.
“It does cover timber but focuses on other things in the process,” Gooding said.
The FMP is not an operational plan. There are no details on the level of timber harvest in an area, it will just detail where timber will be harvested.
Gooding detailed that the FMP is in the information gathered and analysis stage but it is a long process. It should be done in late 2019 and a draft of the FMP will be released in June of 2020. The province would then have to approve it.
There will be a website for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional FMP. The site is not up and running yet. It will go live in 2018. Gooding said there will be open houses so information will be given out in person and online.