In April 2019, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from a business owner and an environmental society (the complainants) who requested access to a hydrological assessment prepared for the Bastion Creek community watershed. The assessment was commissioned jointly for BC Timber Sales and Canoe Forest Products (the licensees).

The licensees offered to review the report with the complainants in either Vernon or Salmon Arm. The complainants, are based on Shuswap Lake, were not satisfied with the response. They submitted a freedom of information request, gained access to a partially redacted copy of the hydrological assessment, and were able to review and then submit comments about the proposed developments in the watershed. The complainants were provided with a copy of the assessment and the issue is considered resolved.

In November 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint about impacts to water quality in the Peachland and Trepanier community watersheds. The complainants asserted that forestry activities in the watersheds have negatively affected the quality of drinking water and increased the number of boil water advisory notices, resulted in stream bank erosion and caused a landslide off the Munroe Forest Service Road  (FSR) into Peachland Creek.

Forestry activities complied with the legal requirements. There are many developments and activities in these watersheds, in addition to forestry, that can impact the water resource and it was not possible to differentiate between forestry and non-forestry impacts. The investigation determined that forestry activities did not cause impacts on human health that could not be addressed through water treatment. The landslide on the Munroe FSR was not caused by forestry activities and licensees maintained natural drainage patterns and maintained forestry roads consistent with the FPPR.

In November 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from a member of the public alleging that culverts at stream crossings on a section of forest road were removed and the channels filled with dirt, causing harm to fish and damage to fish habitat. The complaint also alleges that, despite reporting the situation to government’s compliance and enforcement program several days later, the issue was not investigated until he called back four months later to enquire about whether any action had been taken.

The Board found that damage to fish habitat had occurred and that natural surface drainage patterns were not maintained. The Board also found that government’s enforcement was not appropriate. Although government did investigate the situation, it did not fully consider several important factors, such as the presence of fish and subsequent damage to fish habitat.

The Board received a complaint from a property owner concerned that Tolko Industries Ltd.’s road construction and harvesting caused sediment to enter Malakwa Creek and damage his water system. The complainant was also concerned that Tolko’s forestry activities damaged riparian areas and water courses.

Tolko adequately addressed the risks of its activities and acted quickly to review and address the complainant’s concerns. The Board concluded Tolko was compliant with the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation. However, the Board could not confirm to what extent various factors, or combinations of factors, played in plugging the complainant’s waterworks.

As part of its 2016 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board randomly selected the Okanagan-Shuswap Natural Resources District portion of BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) Okanagan–Columbia Business Area for a full scope compliance audit. The district stretches from the United States border in the south, to the Seymour River/Shuswap Lake in the north and presents many challenges for forestry managers. Notable features include the cities of Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, and Adams, Shuswap, Mabel and Okanagan Lakes, and the Upper Seymour, Eagle and Similkameen Rivers. BCTS operates in 52 operating areas throughout the district.

The audit identified one area requiring improvement with respect to TSL holders not completing fire hazard assessments, and one significant non-compliance related to minor silviculture reporting errors on almost 20 percent of the cutblocks reviewed. However, BCTS is addressing these issues. It has altered its internal procedures to require that the timber sales licensees assesses, records and submits their fire hazard assessment forms to BCTS. BCTS is also implementing a monthly review of its silviculture data to compare and correct any deficiencies between its internal database and the government database.

A local resident in the Okanagan-Shuswap was concerned about the maintenance of the Cooke Creek Forest Service Road (FSR) near Dale Lake. In May 2014, Dale Lake, near Enderby, overflowed and caused a debris flood down Cooke Creek. The complainant believed that the debris flood could have been prevented if district staff had acted on his warnings about maintenance of the culverts at the outlet of the lake. He felt that more attention should be paid to road maintenance.

This report examines whether BC Timber Sales and the district complied with requirements for proper design and maintenance of the stream crossing structures on the Cooke Creek FSR at Dale Lake and whether they responded adequately to the complainant’s concerns.

In June 2014, a landowner near Echo Lake, east of Lumby BC, complained to the Board that forest harvesting in the Bonneau Creek watershed was altering streamflows through his private land. During the spring, high flows were causing damage to his property and, by mid-summer, the stream was dry. As well, the complainant says that the woodlot licensee did not consider his concerns about harvesting effects on streamflows.

The report examined: 1) whether forest harvesting affected streamflows in Bonneau Creek; 2) whether licensees considered the risk of harvesting on streamflows; and 3) whether the woodlot licensee’s public consultation met FRPAs requirements.

Resident of Lake Country filed a complaint with the Board asserting that Tolko Industries Ltd. overharvested trees in moose ungulate winter range, not meeting the requirements of an Order under the Government Actions Regulation for Ungulate Winter Range #U-8-006 – Okanagan TSA.

On November 5, 2013, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint about proposed harvesting and road construction, planned by Canoe Forest Products’ Ltd., a subsidiary of Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., in an area upslope of seasonal cabins on the east side of Shuswap Lake.

This complaint investigation highlights the responsibility licensees have to ensure stakeholder involvement and communications are consistent, timely, responsive, transparent and collaborative. It also demonstrates the responsibility of the public to get involved, share in building a working relationship with the licensee, and become an active part of the forest management process.

Safe drinking water is a critically important resource to the people of British Columbia. This audit set out to assess forest and range practices in relation to water quality and fish habitat in two Okanagan community watersheds – Vernon and Oyama Creek. To do this, auditors assessed compliance of forest and range practices with applicable legislated requirements, and the effectiveness of practices in protecting these values, from September 2008 through October 2010.

Auditors noted the efforts made by MFLNRO to address water quality concerns during the audit period. New and replacement range developments were being established but had not yet been completed. However, some problems with the new developments were identified, and auditors were not able to predict the efficacy of developments to be completed after the audit fieldwork.

Overall, the audit showed that range practices need continued improvement to meet legislative requirements and further reduce risks to water quality.