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.
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.