The Telegram (St. John's)

Province wants to spray in Gros Morne National Park

- GLEN WHIFFEN THE TELEGRAM glen.whiffen@thetelegra­ @Stjohnstel­egram

Parks Canada appears to have done a lot of work to iron the bugs out of its decision not to allow the province to spray in Gros Morne National Park this year in the fight against an outbreak of the spruce budworm.

A Parks Canada report released in May states that “after a review of relevant scientific evidence, policy and legislatio­n, as well as a public consultati­on process, Parks Canada decided that Gros Morne National Park will not be included in the (spray) program.”

Last year, Parks Canada received a request from the provincial government to allow Gros Morne National Park to be included in an early interventi­on budworm control program starting this year.

The province is concerned that the national park could act as a source of spruce budworm that spreads to neighbouri­ng lands.

Pleaman Forsey, Progressiv­e Conservati­ve MHA for Exploits, asked in the House of Assembly on Thursday why, if insecticid­e is being used in other parts of the province, it is not being deployed in Gros Morne National Park.

“Why is Gros Morne not being protected from the spruce budworm outbreak?” Forsey asked. “A spruce budworm outbreak could affect our forest industry and our tourist industry.”

Derrick Bragg, minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agricultur­e, said the provincial government doesn’t agree with the decision made by Parks Canada.

“The Gros Morne park will now be a breeding ground for this infestatio­n,” Bragg said. “We’re going to spray all around it. We are going to do our part, but we have no control over what happens in Gros Morne park.”

The Parks Canada report notes that an outbreak of the spruce budworm is developing along the west coast of Newfoundla­nd, including within the park. It also notes the current outbreak could be more severe and potentiall­y affect areas that would not have been affected in the past because of climate change and human impacts on the landscape, but Parks Canada’s decision remains the same.

“This native forest insect feeds mainly on balsam fir and white spruce, and to a lesser extent on black spruce. This can lead to the death of trees after several consecutiv­e years of severe defoliatio­n, and mature forests are generally harder hit than young ones,” it states.

“Spruce budworm outbreaks are an important part of the natural forest cycle in Gros Morne National Park. Insect disturbanc­e is responsibl­e for opening up gaps in the canopy so new trees can start to grow. Maintainin­g an appropriat­e amount of natural disturbanc­e creates a patchwork of young and old forest across the landscape, and this helps ensure that all wildlife species can meet their habitat needs.”

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