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.

The Forest Practices Board received a complaint that alleged the visual section in ATCO Wood Products (ATCO) approved Forest Stewardship Plan is not compliant with Forest and Range Practices Act and is not enforceable. The complaint is not about any of ATCO’s field activities not meeting visual quality objectives (VQOs) after harvesting and road construction had occurred. VQOs reflect the desired level of visual quality after harvesting and road construction has occurred.

 

The Friends and Residents of the North Fork submitted a complaint that government was not adequately protecting the threatened Kettle-Granby grizzly bear population because it did not make road density targets a legal requirement. Research has shown that human activity on roads can negatively impact bear habitat.

The Board looked at government’s actions for the grizzly bear population and how two licensees manage roads in the area. It found that government had not completed planning initiatives for the bear population and concluded that government has not taken adequate action to address the road density situation. It also found that the licensees did not follow the road density targets because they were not a legal requirement. The Board made several recommendations to government.

A resident in the Boundary area was concerned that harvesting a large clearcut would negatively impact water and wildlife. The forest licensee, Interfor Corporation, was harvesting a large area within its tree farm license in part to convert low value pine to a more productive stand. The Forest and Range Practices Act sets a minimum cutblock size but allows forest licensees to harvest larger cutblocks, subject to requirements to conserve biological diversity at the landscape level. The effects of these larger clearcuts can be negative or beneficial, depending on aspects of hydrology or species of wildlife.

This report examines whether the forest licensee complied with legislated requirements and is adequately managing risks to water and wildlife.

In 2008, a Forest Practices Board complaint investigation found that cattle and elk were over-grazing rangelands in the East Kootenay and the Board recommended that government reduce forage use. A follow-up investigation by the Board in 2015 reported that actions undertaken by government since 2008 had successfully reduced elk populations and grazing allocations for cattle amidst ongoing efforts to restore areas of grassland and open forest lost to forest ingrowth and encroachment. This special report evaluates the effectiveness of actions implemented by government and others to increase the area and quality of rangelands in the East Kootenay. While progress is being made through the collaborative efforts of government and a dedicated group of stakeholders, a number of issues threaten the sustainability of rangelands over the longer term. These include ongoing encroachment and ingrowth of forests, spread of invasive plants, site disturbance due to industrial activities and off-road recreational vehicles and localized over-grazing by cattle and elk.

In July 2016 the Forest Practices Board audited Canadian Forest Products Limited’s (Canfor) Tree Farm Licence 14 in the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District. Tree Farm Licence 14 is located south of Golden and northwest of Invermere in the East Kootenays.

Canfor’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 that Canfor’s fire hazard assessment procedures need improvement.

As part of its 2015 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected woodlot W0437, held by Arrow Glenn Ltd., in the Selkirk District, for audit. The woodlot’s operations are located on north-east of Creston, along Highway 3.

The audit found, except for silviculture obligations and annual reporting, that planning and practices generally complied with the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the Wildfire Act.

Arrow Glenn Ltd. did not meet FRPA requirements for regeneration delay, free growing or annual reporting on any of the cutblocks audited on woodlot W0437. Auditors found that the licensee did not meet the requirements within the required timeframes and did not conform to reporting standards for its annual reports. These combined significant non-compliances are of sufficient magnitude to warrant an overall adverse opinion.

As part of its 2015 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected woodlot W0436, held by Duncan Stanley Lake and Yvonne Boyd, in the Selkirk District, for audit. The woodlot’s operations are located on north-west of Meadow Creek, along Highway 31. The audit found, except for bridge maintenance and annual reporting, that planning and practices generally complied with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. The audit also identified an area requiring improvement related to riparian management. Auditors found a bridge with rot in its substructure, which is a potential safety hazard. The licensee had not assessed the bridge for load-bearing strength nor posted any load restriction or bridge approach signs. Because the licensee had not properly identified and posted the bridge deficiency, it created a safety hazard and is not in compliance with the Woodlot Licence Planning and Practices Regulation (WLPPR). Auditors also found the licensee did not meet submission deadlines or specification requirements for its annual reports. These practices were pervasive and do not provide assurance of good silviculture practices and therefore is considered a significant non-compliance. Auditors also found the licensee had re-classified a fish stream (S3) as non-fish bearing but had not collected enough information to support the classification. As such, the licensee should have managed the stream as if it was fish bearing, requiring a 20-metre riparian reserve zone. The licensee harvested trees in the riparian reserve zone and is non-compliant with the WLPPR. While minimal harm resulted, this practice elevated the risk of harm to fish or fish habitat and is considered an area requiring improvement.