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.
During 2019, the Ministry completed consultation with the Lhtako Dene Nation and subsequently approved a six-month extension to the expired forest stewardship plan. The complaint was resolved because the Lhtako Dene Nation say they were consulted by the Ministry and believe the conditions attached to Tolko’s approved forest stewardship plan extension will help to ensure more effective management of landscape-level biodiversity and wildlife in their Traditional Territory.
In September 2018, the Forest Practices Board audited the Small Scale Salvage program in the Cariboo Chilcotin Natural Resource District. Small scale salvage is the harvest of individual trees or small patches of dead or damaged timber.
During the one-year audit period, almost all small scale salvage activity in the district was aimed at addressing a Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation. A small amount of salvage harvesting involved fire-damaged timber.
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.
In August 2016, the Board received a complaint asserting that a timber sale licence holder (TSL holder) under the BC Timber Sales program had removed portions of a fence on the complainant’s range agreement area, within the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District, to accommodate road access for timber harvesting. The complainant alleged that the actions of the TSL holder put their livestock at risk and that the TSL holder did not obtain the required authorizations from the district manager to remove portions of the fence.
In December 2016, the district manager issued a policy on implementation of section 51 of the Forest and Range Practices Act. The complainant is satisfied with the new district policy on range developments and with BC Timber Sales’ commitment to ensure the fence repairs meet ministry standards.
In October 2016 the Forest Practices Board audited non-replaceable forest licences (NRFL) A81942 and A84952, held by Norbord Inc. in the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District. The 100 Mile House Natural Resource District is located in south-central BC and includes the communities of 100 Mile House and Clinton.
Norbord’s operational planning, timber harvesting, road construction and maintenance, silviculture, and fire protection activities complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations. The audit noted an area for improvement with Norbord’s fire hazard assessment procedures.
A rancher in the south Cariboo was concerned that West Fraser Mills Ltd. did not mitigate impacts to a natural range barrier when it harvested mountain pine beetle-killed stands on the ranchers’ Crown range tenure.
The Forest and Range Practices Act requires forest licensees to propose and carry-out measures to mitigate loss or impacts to natural range barriers on Crown range tenures. In this case, substantial harvesting occurred across the tenure by multiple licensees. Impacts to some range barriers were mitigated but the parties disagreed on whether one natural range barrier had been impacted by harvesting.
The investigation examined whether West Fraser complied with the measures in its forest stewardship plan and whether any licensees or government considered the cumulative effect of salvage harvesting of mountain pine beetle-killed stands by multiple licensees on natural range barriers across this range tenure.
The Forest Practices Board conducted a full scope compliance audit of NRFL A76553 held by Pacific Bioenergy Timber Corp. (PBE) and NRFL A76729 held by RPP Holdings Inc. in the Quesnel District. The audit included all harvesting, roads, silviculture and protection activities, and associated planning, carried out between June 1, 2013, and June 23, 2015.
PBE and RPP operations are located about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel near the village of Nazko. Both licensees target lodgepole pine stands that have been killed or damaged by mountain pine beetle. During the two-year audit period, PBE harvested approximately 94 479 cubic metres and RPP harvested approximately 540 828 cubic metres.
With the exception of one opportunity for improvement for PBE, the operational planning, timber harvesting, road construction, maintenance and deactivation and fire protection activities carried out by the licensees complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
In September 2014, the Forest Practices Board audited range planning and practices on three licences for grazing and one for hay cutting, all located about 20 kilometers northeast of 100 Mile House, south of Canim Lake. The audit involved assessing compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act including the required content of range use plans and whether license holders met practice requirements such as protection of drinking water quality, riparian areas, fish habitat and upland areas.
The audit found that all four licensees had plans that met the required content. Grazing licensees ensured that minimum stubble heights and maximum browse utilization in its plans were not exceeded. Range practices provided for the protection of water quality, licensed waterworks, riparian areas, fish habitat and upland areas. Also, range developments were functional and maintained. The hay cutting licensee had not cut hay for the past several years and no issues were identified.