The Government of Saskatchewan will work to keep the province’s northern pine forests free of mountain pine beetle through a recently renewed agreement with Alberta. The Saskatchewan and Alberta governments have reaffirmed their long-standing co-operation on forest insects and disease, signing a three year agreement to work together on mountain pine beetle management. Saskatchewan will provide $1.25 million this year to help control the outbreak in Alberta, and to prevent or significantly slow the spread into Saskatchewan’s northern forest.
“Through this agreement, we are addressing an issue of mutual importance to our two provinces,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said. “By continuing to support Alberta’s effort to combat mountain pine beetles, we make the best use of our resources by protecting areas of Saskatchewan’s forests that are most at risk.”
The funding will be used to support mountain pine beetle control actions in northern Alberta. Actions include enhanced surveillance and monitoring, removal of infested trees, and research and modelling to effectively direct program efforts. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s original agreement was signed in 2011.
“Alberta appreciates the support we receive from Saskatchewan in our shared effort to protect western Canada’s pine forests from mountain pine beetle infestations,” Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Kyle Fawcett said. “Together, we continue to make progress in managing this threat to our natural resource values.” The mountain pine beetle outbreak has killed more than 18 million hectares of lodgepole pine forest (about five times the size of Vancouver Island) in British Columbia and spread across Alberta, to within about 120 kilometres of the Saskatchewan border. Research has confirmed that the beetle can survive in jack pine, putting forests in northern Saskatchewan at risk. While surveys conducted in the fall of 2014 found no mountain pine beetles in Saskatchewan’s northwest, there is already an established beetle population in Cypress Hills, in the province’s southwest. The Ministry of Environment tracks this population and collaborates with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport on its management.