In April 2018, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from the Lhtako Dene Nation alleging that Tolko (the forest licensee) did not follow through on commitments it made as part of the resolution of a previous complaint to the Board. The new complaint also said that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development approved an extension to Tolko’s forest stewardship plan without consulting the Lhtako Dene Nation. Tolko requested another extension, but it was not approved.
Two trappers in the Nazko Area, near Quesnel complained to the Board that logging practices to salvage mountain pine beetle killed pine trees have removed fisher habitat on their trapline. They claim habitat loss will affect their livelihood and were concerned that salvage operations were not being managed to maintain fisher and other wildlife habitats.
The Board investigated planning and management by both government and licensees operating in the Nazko Area . The Board conducted site visits and analyzed logging activities. During the investigation the area also experienced widespread forest mortality from forest fires.
The Board found the complainants’ concerns were justified, government did not use the legal tools available to protect fisher habitat and did not monitor or follow up to check if guidance had been followed. Some licensees made attempts to retain habitat for fisher habitat, but the efforts were uncoordinated and ultimately insufficient given the extent of salvage harvesting.
In October 2017, the Board audited forestry operations on Tree Farm Licence 52 held by West Fraser Mills Ltd.(West Fraser) within the Quesnel Natural Resource District. This audit included harvesting, roads, silviculture, wildfire protection and associated planning that took place over a 16 month period starting in July 2016.
West Fraser’s activities complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations.
In February, 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from the Lhtako Dene First Nation asserting that planned harvesting in two landscape units by Tolko Industries Ltd. will impact moose populations and landscape-level biodiversity in their Traditional Territory. The Lhtako Dene also said that communication with Tolko has been difficult and that they did not receive landscape-level biodiversity assessments they requested from Tolko in a timely manner. After meeting with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Tolko, the Lhtako Dene say that communication has improved and they are satisfied that their complaint has been resolved.
As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2013 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Quesnel District as the location for a full scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board selected forest licences (FLs) A65926 and A81934, held by Ndazkhot’en Forest Management Ltd. (NFM) and located in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area (TSA), for an audit.
NFM operates on two forest licences within the TSA. Forest Licence A65926 was issued on February 15, 2002, with a term of 15 years and FL A81934 was issued on January 1, 2008, with a term of 5 years. The licences have an allowable annual timber harvest volume of 70 000 cubic metres and 125 000 cubic metres respectively. Most of NFM’s operations are near the village of Nazko, approximately 100 kilometres west of Quesnel. During the two-year audit period, NFM harvested 441 000 cubic metres; 221 000 cubic metres from FL A65926 and 220 000 cubic metres from FL A89134. All harvesting was carried out using ground-based systems, and mountain pine beetle infested lodgepole pine accounted for 88 percent of the harvested volume.
As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2011 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Quesnel District as the location for a full scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board selected occupant licences to cut (OLTC) L43043 and L48493, held by Troll Resort Ltd. (Troll).
The OLTCs were awarded under the Forest Act, but because they are contained within the Troll Mountain Controlled Recreation Area (CRA), designated under the Resort Timber Administration Act and the CRA Regulation, they are administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Resort Development Branch. While forest practices are not administered under the traditional legislative framework, the licencee still must meet the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, Wildfire Act and related regulations for OLTCs.
In June 2009, the Board conducted a full-scope compliance audit of forest planning and practices on woodlot licence W1050 in the Quesnel Forest District. This woodlot is located within one hour’s driving distance of Quesnel (see map on page 2).
The audit assessed 15 cutblocks, more than 12 kilometres of road activities and obligations, as well as operational planning.
The Board notes that the holder of woodlot licence W1050 complied with legislative requirements in all significant respects.
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 June 2009, the Board conducted a full-scope compliance audit of forest planning and practices on woodlot licences W0512 and W1516 in the Quesnel Forest District. Both of these woodlots are located within two hours’ driving distance of Quesnel.
The audit examined each woodlot licensee’s planning, field activities and obligations in the areas of:
- operational planning (including forest development plans, site plans and woodlot licence plans);
- timber harvesting;
- road construction, maintenance and deactivation;
- silviculture activities and obligations; and
- fire protection at active work sites.
All activities, planning and obligations for the period January 1, 2007, to the day of the field audit in June 2009, were included in the scope of the audit.
British Columbia is engulfed in a province-wide mountain pine beetle outbreak. Salvaging value from the dead pine trees is a government priority. To facilitate the salvage effort, government increased the allowable annual cut (AAC) by 80 percent in the three most severely affected timber supply areas; the Lakes, Prince George and Quesnel TSAs, which are also the study areas for this project.
The increased AAC led to concerns about the stewardship of non-timber values such as wildlife and biodiversity. To accommodate these concerns, the “timber uplift” (AAC increase) was to be accompanied by a “conservation uplift” (an increase in retention of mature forest structure in harvested areas).