The B.C. forestry ministry will inventory the forested areas around Dawson Creek to see what effect mountain pine beetles have had on them.
The Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) announced on Friday it would spend $8 million over the next ten years to inventory forested areas in B.C. The plan has a number of goals and targets, but it "is guided by a common vision for an efficient, reliable and complete forest inventory."
Part of this plan would include addressing portions of the province that have been affected by the mountain pine beetle, including the areas around Dawson Creek TSAs.
The B.C. divides forested areas up into TSAs. The Dawson Creek TSA is 2.28 million hectares of land, and includes areas near the communities of Hudson's Hope, Chetwynd, and Dawson Creek.
"The inventory is just – what do we have in the forest? Where is it?" said Pat Martin, a manager of forest inventory for the Forest Analysis and Inventory Branch of FLNRO.
"The beetle has changed the forest greatly, and in (Dawson Creek's) case, is continuing to change the forest … you can see that beetle spreading each year, and this commits us to stay current."
Dawson Creek's timber volume is down about 15 per cent due to mountain pine beetle, according to Martin.
Of the areas affected by mountain pine beetle, the province has divided them into three levels of priorities. Some forested areas near Prince George and Quesnel have been given top priority, while other forested areas, including the Dawson Creek area, are considered a third priority, or the lowest level of priorities.
"Quesnel, for example, has lost approximately half of their timber volume," he said. "It's always a problem when you put in priorities, but you can be sure that attention is being paid to everyone. Right now we're putting a little bit extra information on Prince George and Quesnel."
Martin also said that the plan was meant to provide better information.
"I think it's generally would be perceived as good news for those groups because in it the minister is essentially committing to a pretty large program of bringing the inventory back up to date," said Martin. "It doesn't address tenure issues and who has rights to harvest timber in different places."
Martin could not give a time frame as to when this specific inventory was meant to happen, but that it would happen after the areas hardest hit by the pine beetle.
The plan will not address any actions that could be done to combat the beetle, he added.
In a 2009 Natural Resources Canada report, it was said that the Dawson Creek area was "a newly emerging attack" by the beetle.
Last year, Reg Whiten, the City of Dawson Creek's watershed steward, said that the Oetata/Halfmoon areas were particularly infested. This area is southwest of the city of Dawson Creek, and south of the hamlet of Arras.
If a mountain pine beetle infests a tree, the tree is damaged and eventually killed. This means it can't be used by the lumber industry.
The plan is meant to focus resources where the need is greatest, and use satellite imagery and aerial photography.
According to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, 18 millions of hectares of forest have been infected by the beetle.
A B.C. lumber industry group praised the move.
"We congratulate the ministry for committing to a long-term, stable funding for forest inventory," said Steve Lorimer, the president of the Association of B.C. Forest Professionals. "Solutions to a mid-term timber supply must begin with a good forest inventory."