Forestry licensees and BC Timber Sales (BCTS) have a legal obligation under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) to regrow stands of trees after logging. Reforestation efforts must result in successful regeneration of trees and growth to healthy maturity. This is important both to ensure a sustainable flow of economically valuable timber into the future and to maintain broader environmental and community values in BC’s forests.
Interior Douglas-fir (IDF) forests in BC’s southern interior support a number of different uses and values, including timber, range, wildlife and species at risk, recreation, and visual quality. Some IDF ecosystems are often dominated by Douglas-fir trees of mixed age and size with a grassy understory. A common species for planting after logging is lodgepole pine because seedlings have a high survival rate and grow quickly above competing vegetation. Tree species composition in these ecosystems is reported to be shifting from fir to pine with potential implications for timber and non-timber values.
The investigation examined tree species composition trends, assessed licensee compliance with reforestation requirements and assessed the effectiveness of reforestation choices and government direction in establishing and maintaining resilient stands. Focus is on reforestation activities in the Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan, and Kootenay Boundary Natural Resource Regions in areas logged under FRPA between 2008 and 2017. It includes forest licences, tree farm licences, woodlots, First Nations woodland licences, and community forests.
In October 2018, the Board received a complaint about planned logging in the Glade community watershed, near Castlegar, BC. The Glade Watershed Protection Society was concerned that a watershed assessment was incomplete, outdated, and inconsistent with forest stewardship plan strategies to meet community watershed objectives.
The Board considered whether the watershed assessment is consistent with the expected professional standards, and whether the licensees complied with legal requirements in the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).
As part of its 2019 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected forest licence A30171, held by Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd. in the Selkirk Natural Resource District for audit. This was a full scope compliance audit of activities carried out between September 1, 2017, and September 26, 2019.
Cooper Creek complied with most of the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. However, the audit did find a non-compliance involving an excavator that crossed a bridge that was not rated to handle the weight of the machine, and that Cooper Creek needs to prepare site plans for roads built outside of cutblocks.
As part of its 2018 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Arrow Field Unit portion of BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) Kootenay Business Area for audit. The Arrow Field Unit covers the Arrow Lakes and is approximately 1,350,000 hectares, starting at the US border and stretching north towards Revelstoke. BCTS has several operating areas dispersed throughout the field unit. The communities of Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Nakusp and Rossland are within the field unit.
The audit found that BCTS and timber sale licensees’ practices complied with FRPA and the WA, but also found that several licensees’ fire hazard assessment practices require improvement. While licensees are abating the fire hazard as a standard practice, they cannot demonstrate that they have been diligent in assessing the hazard, which is a non-compliance with legislation.
In September 2018, the Forest Practices Board audited range planning and practices on five agreements for grazing in the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District. The range tenures are located between Cranbrook and Golden, and near Fernie, BC. The audit involved assessing compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act, including the required content of range use plans and whether agreement holders met practice requirements such as protection of riparian areas, upland areas, licensed waterworks and maintenance of range developments.
The audit identified two areas requiring improvement related to the grazing schedules.
This special investigation examined whether the roles and responsibilities of woodlot licensees, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, woodlot federation/association, and forest professionals in the Kootenay Lake Timber Supply Area (TSA) are clearly defined and understood, and are being carried out in a manner that ensures the woodlot licensees are complying with forest practices legislation.
Investigators assessed the activities of 15 woodlot licensees in the Kootenay Lake TSA portion of the Selkirk Natural Resource District for compliance with FRPA and the Wildfire Act.
A landowner complained that Interfor Corporation (Interfor) was not maintaining its roads and caused landslides into Little Cayuse Creek where he gets his water. He also asserted that government was not adequately enforcing Interfor’s maintenance requirements.
The Board’s investigation determined that Interfor had not conducted adequate inspections to ensure no material adverse effect on forest resources so did not comply with the Forest and Range Practices Act road maintenance requirements. The investigation also found that government was not doing enough to determine if Interfor had complied with its road maintenance requirements.
The Board investigated a complaint about proposed harvesting around recreation sites at Thone and Williamson Lakes. The complainants were concerned that the cutblocks were too close to the campsites and lakes. They thought the harvesting posed and unacceptable risk to: the recreational experience of campers and anglers, public safety due windthrow, riparian ecosystems and water levels of the lakes and streams. Harvesting in recreation sites had been authorized by a recreation officer.
This investigation examined whether the planned harvest would comply with the legal requirements, whether the harvest adequately managed the risk to the elements the complainants were concerned about, if the recreation officer’s authorization of harvest was reasonable and if public consultation was appropriate.
The Valhalla Wilderness Association complained to the Board that forest practices undertaken by the Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR) near Summit Lake is impacting western toad habitat and causing direct mortality to the toads.
In its investigation, the Board considered current research being undertaken at Summit lake into the life cycle and habitat requirements of the western toad.
As there are no current legal requirements under the Forest and Range Practices Act to protect the toads, the Board looked into whether NACFOR and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations took reasonable steps to minimize harm to the toads during forestry operations.
In October 2017 the Board audited forestry operations on Forest Licence A31102 held by Downie Street Sawmills Ltd. (Downie) within the Selkirk Natural Resource District. This audit included harvesting, roads, silviculture, wildfire protection and associated planning that took place over a two-year period starting in October 2015.
Downie’s activities generally complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations. However, the audit noted a significant non-compliance related to some road construction practices on steep terrain.