Elphinstone Logging Focus, an environmental group on the Sunshine Coast, complained that cutblocks sold by BC Timber Sales would impact at-risk plant communities and affect the integrity of the ecosystem near Mt. Elphinstone Park.
The Board investigated and determined that the mature forest stands in the cutblocks contained plant communities listed by the BC Conservation Data Centre as being in peril, or of special concern. There are no government objectives protecting the plant communities and BCTS’s protocol for managing species at risk only includes plant communities found in old forest, not the mature forest stands in this area.
The Board made two recommendations to government and BCTS to address the situation.
As part of its 2013 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected Block 1 of Western Forest Product Inc.’s (WFP) Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 39 for audit. Block 1 lies within the Sunshine Coast district, near Powell River.
TFL 39 is made up of five distinct operating areas called blocks. Blocks 2 to 5, which are not part of the audit, are on Vancouver Island and on the mainland coast, northwest of Block 1. WFP manages Block 1 through its Stillwater Forest Operation, which is located in Powell River.
The forest in the southern portion of Block 1 is dominated by second growth Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, red alder and amabilis fir. The northern portion of Block 1 contains mixed species of immature to old forest. WFP harvested about 500 000 cubic metres of timber from Block 1 during the one-year audit period.
In February 2012, a member of the public who regularly hikes on the Sunshine Coast Trail near Powell River complained to the Board that Western Forest Products Inc. (WFP, or “the licensee” unless otherwise indicated) is not maintaining the integrity of the trail when harvesting close to it. The complainant asserted that buffers were not protecting visual quality or preventing trees from blowing down onto the trail.
The complainant has shared his concerns with the licensee on numerous occasions and the licensee has responded. The licensee assured the complainant that it is committed to sustainable forest management and local community values including the Sunshine Coast Trail. The complainant continues to feel that the licensee does not seriously consider his concerns.
Coast Mountain Expeditions (CME) submitted a complaint to the Forest Practices Board in September 2011 asserting that a recently approved log dump in Toba Inlet will impact its business.
Although the log dump will be operated as a forestry operation, the application was approved under the Lands Act. The Board does not have jurisdiction to consider Land Act issues and, as a result, cannot consider this complaint. However, the Board believes it worth highlighting the circumstances of this issue as an example of the problems that can arise when two tenure holders rely on the same resource for different purposes.
As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2011 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Sunshine Coast District as the location for a full scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board selected all four community forest agreements (CFAs) for audit: CFA licence K3F held by Sechelt Community Projects Inc.; CFA licence K3G held by Powell River Community Forest Ltd.; CFA licence K3P held by Sliammon First Nation; and CFA licence K4C held by Klahoose First Nation. A community forest is a forest tenure managed by a local government, First Nation, or community group for the benefit of the entire community.
Two organizations, Friends of Bute Inlet and the Sierra Club of BC, complained to the Forest Practices Board about the impact of a hydroelectric project on forest resources. The “run-of-river” Toba River and Montrose Creek Hydroelectric Project, located about 100 kilometres north of Powell River, is owned by Toba Montrose General Partnership (the proponent). It underwent an environmental assessment, was approved by both the provincial and federal governments in 2007, and began operating in August 2010.
The complainants asked the Board to assess:
- what the immediate, cumulative and long-term environmental impacts associated with the transmission lines and roads might be;
- whether the relevant regulations and policies are fair, are effectively protecting BC’s natural heritage, and are serving the immediate and long-term interests of the public; and
- whether planning and practices, government oversight and public consultation are adequate.
This is the board’s first investigation into a complaint about the impact a run-of-river hydroelectric project might have on forest resources. Understanding how forest resources were managed required consideration of the overall regulatory framework, including regulations and policies that fell outside of the Board’s authority. This “big picture” approach was made possible through the cooperation and support of various government agencies and the project proponent. The resulting report provides a learning opportunity to promote sound forest management for future run-of-river projects.
In September 2008, the Forest Practices Board conducted a limited scope compliance audit of the British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS) program and timber sale licence holders in the Powell River Business Unit of the Strait of Georgia Business Area, located in the Sunshine Coast Forest District.
The audit assessed more than 30 cutblocks, over 300 kilometres of road activities and obligations, 89 bridges and associated operational planning of the BCTS program and its timber sale licence holders.
In July 2006, the district manager of the Sunshine Coast Forest District approved a FSP submitted by International Forest Products Limited (the licensee), that covered much of the Sunshine Coast Timber Supply Area and included a strategy for conservation of marbled murrelet habitat. With that strategy approved, the Board investigated how FRPA was being applied.
The initial objectives of the special investigation were:
- to assess government’s objectives by comparing them with the objectives of a draft federal marbled murrelet recovery strategy;
- to compare the anticipated results of the licensee’s forest stewardship plan with what is likely to be recommended for recovery of marbled murrelet populations in the plan area;
- to assess the reliance on, and effectiveness of, resource professionals in the licensee’s planning processes around conservation of marbled murrelet nesting habitat; and
- to assess the effectiveness of forest stewardship and sustainable forest management planning processes for informing the public of, and involving the public in, implementing conservation measures for marbled murrelet habitat.
Three complaints from the Powell River area; one from private citizens, one from the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society and a third from the Powell River Alpine Club was received. The forest stewardship plan (FSP) not being understandable; community advisory group no longer adequately represented the community; and the community values that were incorporated into the Stillwater Pilot Pan were not included in the draft FSP according to the complainants.
Five forestry licensees in the Sunshine Coast Forest District—International Forest Products Ltd., Terminal Forest Products Ltd., Northwest Hardwoods, 9096 Investments Ltd., and F.A.B. Logging Co. Ltd. complied with legislative requirements for timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance and deactivation. Licensees also followed land-use plan directives such as protecting goat ranges and maintaining visual quality standards.