As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2010 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Fort Nelson Forest District as the location for a full-scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board chose to examine activities involving two oil and gas licensees—Apache Canada Ltd. (Apache) and Devon Canada Corporation (Devon).

The Board’s audit fieldwork took place on October 4 and 5, 2010, for Apache, and October 6 and 7, 2010, for Devon.

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.

The Ministry of Forests and Range (MFR) Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) program is responsible for promoting compliance with, and ensuring enforcement of, the province’s forest legislation. Conducting inspections to determine licensee compliance is a key activity of this program, and is the ministry’s primary source of information to assess compliance.

This investigation examines, at the district level, the number of compliance and enforcement (C&E) inspections completed in 2005 and 2006, and the range of alleged non-compliances identified in inspection reports for six forest districts: North Coast and Campbell River in the Coast Region; Skeena-Stikine and Fort Nelson in the Northern Interior Region; and Kamloops and Chilcotin in the Southern Interior Region.

In June 2001, the Board undertook a series of audits in an area within the Fort Nelson Forest District. This report, in addition to the published audit reports, is provided as an overview to assist the public to understand the effectiveness of overall forest stewardship in the audit area. Under section 189 of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, the Board chair is empowered to make such a special report regarding a matter that is in the public interest. This report is drawn from audit evidence and additional observations; and, in conjunction with the audits, reports on the overall stewardship of the land within the audit area.