This is the Board’s closing letter for the investigation of a complaint about harvesting associated with cutting permit 17 issued to Interwest Timber Ltd. (the licensee) under forest license A80509.

This complaint arose when Interwest planned six cutblocks in the vicinity of Tyaughton Lake. Residents at Tyaughton Lake became aware of this planned activity when they noticed harvest boundaries marked in the forest above their properties in early 2011. The Tyax Ratepayer’s Association was formed in the spring of 2011 to represent the residents and their concerns regarding this development.

26As part of its 2012 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected Amabilis Contracting Limited’s (Amabilis) non-replaceable forest licence (NRFL) A79575 for audit. Amabilis is part of the Pioneer Family Timber Partnership, based in Williams Lake.

Amabilis’ NRFL lies within the Williams Lake timber supply area (TSA), and nearby communities include Williams Lake, Horsefly and Likely. The terrain of the interior plateau is flat to rolling and the predominant tree species is lodgepole pine.

The Board conducted a full scope compliance audit, in which all harvesting, roads, silviculture, protection activities and associated planning done between June 1, 2010, and June 22, 2012, were included in the audit.

A rancher complained that, during the summers of 2009 and 2010, his ranch southwest of Williams Lake had run short of water. The complainant asserted that salvage logging upstream of the ranch had caused earlier, faster and greater runoff during spring, which removed water from the system, and ultimately led to summer water shortages. Mountain pine beetle attacked the pine-dominated watershed in the mid-2000s, killing much of the mature pine. Extensive salvage harvesting began in 2006.

The Board found that the reduced summer streamflows at the ranch were likely the result of depleted soil moisture and groundwater following a series of dry years, but salvage harvesting may have added to the problem by increasing the potential for accelerated runoff.

In 2011, a complainant experienced an unexpected loss of water and two floods. Concerned that his property, livelihood and the value of Twinflower Creek to his interests were at risk of harm from the cumulative effect of current weather, climate change, mountain pine beetle, and salvage harvesting, he contacted the Board to investigate.

The complainant expressed frustration that, under the framework of the Forest and Range Practices Act, it is the forest licensee that decides whether to proceed with forest activities on Crown land that could negatively affect values on which he depends, as well as his assets and livelihood.

This is the Board’s second investigation of a complaint about the effects of pine beetle salvage logging on this watershed.

As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2010 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Chilcotin Forest District as the location for a full-scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board selected non-renewable forest licence (NRFL) A81390, held by Klatassine Resources Ltd., for audit. All harvesting, roads, silviculture, protection activities and associated planning, carried out between September 1, 2008, and September 21, 2010, were assessed for compliance with FRPA, the Wildfire Act and related regulations

The primary operating area for NRFL A81390 is in the Palmer Lake area, which is about 30 kilometres north of Alexis Creek, within the Williams Lake Timber Supply Area, in the Tl’etinqox-t’in’s traditional territory.

As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2008 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Central Cariboo Forest District and decided to audit forest recreation management and enforcement.

This is the Board’s first audit focused exclusively on forest recreation management and enforcement. The audit encompassed the following aspects:

  • recreation resource management;
  • recreation use management, including sites and trails; and
  • recreation enforcement.

In December 2008, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from a rancher about proposed salvage harvesting of mountain pine beetle killed trees in the Big Creek area southwest of Williams Lake. The complainant was concerned that harvesting by Tolko Industries Ltd. (the licensee) would exacerbate the already altered hydrology of the area.

In British Columbia, use of Crown range is regulated by the Range Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The Range Act provides the authority to grant range agreements, including permits and licences. These agreements include things like the tenure area and the amount of forage that can be consumed by livestock on Crown land. Similar to the former Forest Practices Code, FRPA provides the necessary authority for government to manage the Crown land resource. This includes authority to require the agreement holder to prepare a range plan and follow practice requirements.

The investigation found that the current framework for range planning under FRPA is not working well for agreement holders, MFR range staff or for management of the range resource. First, there is widespread uncertainty about what the objectives for range mean and what is required to achieve them. Second, agreement holders are expected to write measurable and enforceable plans, yet may not have the necessary qualifications and experience to do so. Finally, the preparation and approval of RUPs is a time consuming and challenging task for agreement holders and the MFR, and it is not clear if range planning is achieving any measurable benefit in managing the range resource.

In this special investigation, the Board examined 111 cutblocks to determine, in part, whether or not licensees assessed and abated fire hazard as required by the Wildfire Act. The Act requires that both the fuel hazard and the risk of a fire starting or spreading on a site be assessed. Fuel hazard was assessed on 41 percent of the cutblocks, but the risk of a fire starting or spreading on a site was not assessed on any cutblock sampled. The result is that none of the licensees complied with the fire hazard assessment requirements of the Act.

Despite complete non-compliance with assessment requirements, fire hazard was often abated satisfactorily through routine practices such as piling and burning roadside debris. However, in some cases, licensees did not recognize higher risk situations such as the fuel hazard created by processing trees at the stump.

In July 2007, a woodlot licensee in the Central Cariboo Forest District (the complainant) filed a complaint with the Forest Practices Board saying that a recent change in the Ministry of Forests and Range’s policy on issuing salvage permits would create a forest health risk on his woodlot.

The complainant has a woodlot licence on Crown land adjacent to his private land parcel. The forest in the woodlot is dominated by Douglas fir, with small amounts of lodgepole pine and spruce. As with many of the Douglas fir stands in the interior, the stands in the woodlot licence have a high degree of bark beetle infestation. The beetle bores into the bark, and heavy infestations can kill the tree. Trees that are weakened by drought, disease or other agents are more susceptible to bark beetle attack and are therefore more likely to facilitate the spread of the infestation.