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.

As part of its 2015 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected woodlot W0438, held by Jeffrey Mattes, in the Selkirk District, for audit. The woodlot’s operations are located on south of Kaslo, along Highway 31.

The audit found that planning and practices generally complied with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. However, the audit also identified two areas requiring improvement related to fire hazard assessments and annual reporting.

 

As part of its 2015 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board selected woodlot W1644, held by Rojo Logging Limited, in the Selkirk District, for audit. The woodlot’s operations are located east of Creston, along Highway 3.

The audit found that planning and practices generally complied with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. However, the audit also identified an area requiring improvement related to silviculture obligations and annual reporting.

Auditors found Rojo is in non-compliance with annual reporting, regeneration delay and free growing requirements, because the previous licensee did not meet these requirements. However, because Rojo recently took over the woodlot, identified these deficiencies and is implementing a plan to correct them, the finding is considered an area requiring improvement.

In May 2015, the Forest Practices Board audited the activities of BC Timber Sales (BCTS) and timber sale licence holders in the Boundary timber supply area (TSA). The TSA covers approximately 659 000 hectares of the southern interior, north of the international border. The TSA includes the Kettle River and Granby River drainages and the communities of Grand Forks, Midway, Greenwood, Rock Creek, Beaverdell and Christina Lake.

The audit found that BCTS’ planning and activities complied with legislated requirements. However, the audit found that a timber sale licence holder did not maintain natural surface drainage patterns on a road above unstable terrain. The Board considered that to be a significant non-compliance. The Board also found that all but one timber sale licensee need to improve their fire hazard assessment practices.

The Rocky Mountain Trench is rich in ecological diversity. It is the low-elevation grassland and open forest ecosystems that support the greatest biological diversity and the greatest concentration of forage use, and human settlement and development. Maintaining a healthy grassland ecosystem in the Rocky Mountain Trench is important, but challenging.

In 2008, the Board published the complaint investigation report Wildlife and Cattle Grazing in the East Kootenay. The report addressed concerns that: forest in-growth on grasslands had caused forage supply to decline; elk and deer numbers had been allowed to increase causing forage to be overgrazed; and individual ranchers had to reduce the number and duration of cattle grazing on Crown lands. The report recommended that the Ministry of Forests and Range and the Ministry of Environment direct reductions of forage use to achieve a positive and continuing trend in grassland ecosystem condition.

Government responded in March 2011 and outlined actions they had taken to address the recommendations from the 2008 report. This report examines progress by government to implement those actions.