Beetle-killed lodgepole pine won’t be salvageable forever, says a new report from the Special Committee on Timber Supply.

Now, the B.C.-government-appointed committee is looking in Merritt for public input on July 12 about what to do about a possible a lumber shortage for the next 50 years.

“They are looking to the public for ideas, and input on their ideas, about what the possibilities are at a timber supply level,” said Pat Salm, facilitator for the Nicola Thompson Fraser Public Advisory Group.

Actions such as fertilizing the trees so they grow faster, and harvesting around streams and wetlands could increase the lumber supply.

“You play the what-if scenarios, like what if we could go after younger stands,” Salm said. “Currently, maybe some of the younger stands are under-sized, but thicker stands.”

While the committee estimates that 80 per cent of lodgepole pine throughout the province will be killed by the beetle, that number drops in the southern regions, including around Merritt.

A large percentage of wood processed in Merritt is pine.

The largest recorded pine-beetle outbreak in North American history has eaten away approximately 18.1 million hectares, the June 11 report noted.

“It is projected,” the report states, “that 10 to 15 years from now, overall provincial timber supplies will be 20 per cent below the pre-infestation levels and that this reduction may last for up to 50 years.

“In areas with the greatest per cent of pine, timber shortages are already being noted and the drop in harvest level will likely exceed the provincial average of 20 per cent.”

The Merritt information session is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 12 at either the Best Western or the Merritt Desert Inn.

The Special Committee was appointed by the Legislative Assembly of B.C. to examine and make recommendations about the province’s mid-term timber supply.

A committee report is due back to the Legislative Assembly by Aug. 15.

Timber Supply Options:

? Harvest some of the areas currently constrained from timber harvest in order to support other resource values

? Increase the harvest of marginally economic timber

? Change the flow of timber by adjusting administrative boundaries or accelerating timber availability

? Shift to more area-based tenures and associated more intensive forest management

? Increase the level of intensive forest management through fertilization and other advanced silviculture activities.

Source: Special Committee on Timber Supply Discussion Paper