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.
As part of its 2019 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Cascades Natural Resource District as the location for a full scope compliance audit. Within the district, the Board selected Tolko Industries Ltd.’s (Tolko) forest licences (FL) A18696, A18697 and A74911 for audit. Forest licences A18696, A18697 and A74911 are within the Merritt timber supply area (TSA), which covers about 1.13 million hectares in British Columbia’s southwest interior. Merritt and Princeton are the largest communities in the TSA.
The audit found an area for improvement with the completion of fire hazard assessments.
In May 2018, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint that asserted recent harvesting in a watershed had increased peak flows and in combination with inadequate road maintenance by Interfor and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) caused damage to Yates Creek, Yates Creek Road and his private property. The complaint was resolved.
In April 2019, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from a business owner and an environmental society (the complainants) who requested access to a hydrological assessment prepared for the Bastion Creek community watershed. The assessment was commissioned jointly for BC Timber Sales and Canoe Forest Products (the licensees).
In November 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint about impacts to water quality in the Peachland and Trepanier community watersheds. The complainants asserted that forestry activities in the watersheds have negatively affected the quality of drinking water and increased the number of boil water advisory notices, resulted in stream bank erosion and caused a landslide off the Munroe Forest Service Road (FSR) into Peachland Creek.
Forestry activities complied with the legal requirements. There are many developments and activities in these watersheds, in addition to forestry, that can impact the water resource and it was not possible to differentiate between forestry and non-forestry impacts. The investigation determined that forestry activities did not cause impacts on human health that could not be addressed through water treatment. The landslide on the Munroe FSR was not caused by forestry activities and licensees maintained natural drainage patterns and maintained forestry roads consistent with the FPPR.
In November 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from a member of the public alleging that culverts at stream crossings on a section of forest road were removed and the channels filled with dirt, causing harm to fish and damage to fish habitat. The complaint also alleges that, despite reporting the situation to government’s compliance and enforcement program several days later, the issue was not investigated until he called back four months later to enquire about whether any action had been taken.
The Board found that damage to fish habitat had occurred and that natural surface drainage patterns were not maintained. The Board also found that government’s enforcement was not appropriate. Although government did investigate the situation, it did not fully consider several important factors, such as the presence of fish and subsequent damage to fish habitat.
In late June 2018, the Forest Practices Board audited the forest activities of Adams Lake under forest licence A89984, in the Thompson Rivers Natural Resource District. This was a full scope compliance audit and all activities carried out since June 1, 2016, were eligible for audit.
Adams Lake complied with most of the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act, however the audit noted that Adams Lake could improve its slash piling and burning practices.
In fall 2017, the Forest Practices Board audited the forest activities of 0866740 B.C. Ltd. This company, held by Aspen Planers Ltd., operates in the Cascades Natural Resource District near Lillooet, Gold Bridge, and the Bridge River.
This was a full scope compliance audit and all activities carried out between July 1, 2015, and November 2, 2017, were eligible for audit.
Activities complied with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act but the audit identified two areas for improvement related to fire hazard assessments and visual quality management.
The Board investigated a complaint from a community group about the potential visual impacts of a licensee’s planned logging near Lillooet. This area has visual quality objectives (VQOs), and the licensee’s forest stewardship plan contained results and strategies to meet these objectives. The complainant was concerned that planned logging would not meet the VQOs, and wondered why the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development would issue a permit and why their compliance and enforcement branch would not do something prior to logging.
In planning the logging, the licensee had completed visual simulations and was working with community members to be consistent with the VQOs. This report describes the community member’s concerns, efforts by the licensee and government, and results of these efforts after logging.
The Board received a complaint from two water users on McClure Creek, north of Kamloops, about increased sediment loading in the McClure Creek drainage following harvesting and road construction by International Forest Products Ltd. (Interfor). The complainants were concerned that the activities have resulted in a buildup of sediment at their domestic water system’s dam and water intake.
The Board examined the licensee’s forest operations on the ground, and their planning activities at the cutblock and watershed level.