Public review of jack pine budworm plan underway

With the 2006 Insect Pest Management Program for the Fort Frances, Dryden, and Kenora districts now completed and approved, the Ministry of Natural Resources has moved into its second stage of managing the jack pine budworm infestation: a 30-day public review period.
“It’s an open review period of the final mapping project,” noted Bill Moody, project supervisor of the MNR’s Fort Frances District office. “The public can have a look at the maps and let us know what they think.”
He said the area around Lake Despair is one of the target locations.
“There are a lot of cottage owners in that area,” he added as a reason the public may want a chance to review the maps before the program is implemented.
Moody said they hope to begin aerial spraying of the infected areas just “after the long weekend in May.”
Through the Insect Pest Management Program, the MNR approved several methods to deal with the jack pine budworm infestation, such as re-direct harvest (changing harvesting schedules to deal with infested areas first, putting off the harvest of other areas for a later date) and aerial spraying (using a biological insecticide Bacillus Thuringiensis subspecies Kurstaki, commonly known as Btk).
The recommended insecticide is a bacterium found naturally in soils and it has been successful as a biological pest control agent all over the world.
With the jack pine budworm causing severe defoliation in nearly 90,000 hectares of forest in parts of the district last summer, Moody said aerial spraying is expected to help with the situation for this coming summer.
“Really, there’s no other way,” he stressed. “The spraying should control it and then we’ll let nature take its course.
“We just want to save as many trees as we can.
The 30-day review period began March 1 and runs until March 31. The program will be available for review at the Fort Frances, Dryden, and Kenora district offices, as well as and the Atikokan area office, on Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Viewing also can be arranged for after business hours by contacting the office.
During the review period, members of the public can make a written request to the minister of environment for an individual environmental assessment of “specific proposed forest management activities in the insect pest management program.”
A letter from the MNR states it is collecting comments and information about this Insect Pest Management Program to “assist in making decisions and determining further public consultation needs.”
And Moody said they have been receiving comments, all of which are positive.
“Many cottage owners have noticed the defoliation,” he noted. “They see the damage being done and the comments remain positive.
“So we hope we will be able to keep on going with this project,” he added.
While he doesn’t expect any negative feedback, Moody said there is a process to go through to address any major concerns which may arise. But he doesn’t think this will push back the start date of implementing the program.