WHEREAS the Mountain Pine Beetle is having a devastating impact on both pine trees and the forest industry in Alberta; and
WHEREAS current cut and burn control work funded by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development is hampered at times by lack of early approval of funding and lack of funding through the provincial fiscal year end process at March 31st; and
WHEREAS the essence of time is a key factor in the control of infestation and fire prevention of Mountain Pine Beetle;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Province of Alberta to create a mechanism or process that allows timely funding approval of start up and continuation over March 31st for Mountain Pine Beetle control work. The result should be that Mountain Pine Beetle control work, once started, can continue without stoppage until the end of the control window, October through April/May the following year.
Mountain Pine Beetle continues to be an increasingly serious pest in Alberta. The summer of 2009 saw another in-flight from the west, which further worsened an already severe problem for pine trees and the health of Alberta’s forests.
The current cut and burn control work funded by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development is hampered at times by lack of early approval of funding and lack of funding through the fiscal year end process at March 31st. This creates the situation of either losing control windows in the fall, or having to halt control at a time when activities are proceeding efficiently and another two months of the control window are available. In the County’s opinion, this process can, and needs to be improved.
Resolution 6-09F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province’s priorities for Mountain Pine Beetle be expanded to areas of new risk and infestation where there has been little control effort to date; and that funding for the Mountain Pine Beetle program be increased to assist with control efforts in these areas.
Sustainable Resource Development:
There are factors that cannot be predicted in advance, including the numbers of beetles and numbers of trees attacked, the terrain in infested areas and whether there was a massive overflight of beetles, as there was last summer.
The actual cost to implement mountain pine beetle response programs will continue to be funded by the Alberta Government as emergencies. The amount we allocate to fight mountain pine beetle changes from year to year, depending on the conditions.
There are budgeting processes in place that must be followed to ensure Albertans’ tax dollars are allocated to the highest priority programs. Since the mountain pine beetle is an emergency in Alberta, we must annually declare the emergency then allocate appropriate funding.
Alberta remains committed to mitigating the effect of mountain pine beetle, and this forest health emergency is managed on a year-to-year basis.
The AAMDC found the initial response from the Government of Alberta to be unsatisfactory, because the need for diligent budgeting was not balanced appropriately with the need for ongoing Mountain Pine Beetle. However, the Government of Alberta has been making headway in addressing the Mountain Pine Beetle crisis. A priority initiative for Sustainable Resource Development in the 2012-13 budget included managing wildfires and implementing pre-emptive strategies that promote public safety and maintain forest health by reducing susceptibility to wildfire, disease and insect infestations such as from the mountain pine beetle. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development continues to work towards Mountain Pine Beetle eradication with similar level funding being carried forward in the 2013-14 budget for forest management and wildfire management. The AAMDC will continue to monitor the funding levels for Mountain Pine Beetle control in future budgets.