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Provincial funds used to remove MPB-infested trees

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Yellowhead County received $300,000 through the government’s Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) Municipal Grant Program, according to a May 7 announcement by the province.

The $300,000 was used to hire a contractor to remove MPB hit trees on private land. 

In total, 1,767 trees were removed for county residents through this program through cutting and burning. Trees were selected through aerial flight surveys done by the province to identify hot spots and land owner reporting. 

Yellowhead County applied for the grant funding to manage the significantly increasing mountain pine beetle populations in the Edson Forest Area, in which Hinton is also located.

MPB infestations continue to threaten Alberta’s timber supply and healthy forest ecosystems and millions of trees have been killed across the province since the outbreak began over a decade ago, stated the province’s news release.

The government stated that since 2018, surveys show MPB activity has continued to grow in certain areas of the province, including the Edson Forest Area.

“Most of the provincial activities were east of Hinton this year and our interactions were more quiet this year,” said Hal Jackson, planning superintendent at West Fraser Mills.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AAF) and Yellowhead County are working to identify areas where control activities will have the greatest impact on the overall provincial control effort.

The press release stated that the Alberta government has treated 44,214 infested trees within Yellowhead County to date. The municipal grant program was established in 2006 to support the costs of municipal pine beetle control operations. 

The program provides funding and expert advice to municipalities that support mountain pine beetle management on municipal and private lands. 

Funds can be awarded to municipalities with trees infested with mountain pine beetle and whose management programs align directly with Alberta’s overall objectives. Budget 2020 continues the government’s increased mountain pine beetle funding of $30 million per year through 2022-2023. Since 2006, Alberta has spent more than $560 million controlling mountain pine beetle.

The county recently announced it is selling Beetle Block Verbenone for the first time. 

Verbenone comes in pouches and is a synthetically produced anti-aggression pheromone that works by repelling newly arriving beetles. 

The pheromones trick the beetle into believing that nearby trees are full of other MPBs, forcing them to look elsewhere. Sales started in May and will run all summer as supplies last. Each pouch costs $10, and one pouch is needed for a single lone-standing tree.

This solution can be useful for those with a few trees in their yards, in areas with low to moderate beetle pressure. 

The county stated that high-altitude areas, such as around Robb and Hinton, may not see promising results. 

Yellowhead County Agricultural Services recommends Verbenone should be ready to hang by mid-June, as each pouch lasts roughly eight weeks before the pheromone evaporates.

The pheromone must be present during peak flight time of MPB, which happens around mid-July. For more information, call Yellowhead County at 1-800-665-6030.

The Town did not apply for MPB mitigation money for the 2018/2019 or 2019/2020 season as Hinton is no longer considered the leading edge in the fight against the Mountain Pine Beetle. 

The program’s goal is to address green, but attacked, trees and Hinton’s focus is now red dead trees.