Forest recreation is important in British Columbia. It helps to support a thriving tourism industry, and contributes to a lifestyle for many British Columbian’s who enjoy BC’s natural beauty and
recreating in outdoor areas.

This special report has been prompted by multiple concerns and complaints received by the Board about outdoor recreation activities and how recreation values are managed under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). Examples include: management of forestry activities within designated recreation sites; impacts of forestry activities on recreation resources; and perceived gaps in management of forest recreation values including underutilization of the management tools provided in FRPA. The Board has observed that problems can occur when there is no planning for recreation resource values or where objectives and desired outcomes for these values are not clear.

This special report will examine the public complaints investigated by the Board under the FRPA regime including those related to drinking water in BC forests, and other relevant water-related complaints, to determine whether forest practices are negatively affecting drinking water supplies.

Planning for forest management in BC is currently missing a critical level between strategic processes for setting direction (such as land use planning) and operational planning. This tactical level of planning is essential if we are going to move towards a desired future forest for all values.

In this special report, the Board has outlined the advantages and principles of tactical forest planning—why we should do it and what it consists of.

In 2015, the Forest Practices Board published a special investigation report on forest stewardship plans (FSPs). The 2015 report findings were substantial, and the recommendations triggered a quick response from government in the form of non-legal direction and training for practitioners and government staff. Since the 2015 report came out, many FSPs have expired and new replacement FSPs have been submitted to the province for approval.

The Board decided to take a look at the status and content of new FSPs to see if its recommendations were being implemented and if the new replacement FSPs were improving. The results of that follow-up work are contained in this report.

Fish are an important part of the environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual fabric of BC. People care deeply about fish and fish habitats and how they are managed. Much of the public’s concern about fish relates to how forestry and range activities are managed to prevent impacts to fish habitats. The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and its regulations contain several objectives and practice requirements to protect or conserve fish and fish habitats.

Past Board work and government monitoring have shown that the general practices requirements in FRPA have improved the protection of fish habitats compared to when there was no such legislation.  This special report identifies opportunities to further strengthen aspects of forest management and FRPA implementation to conserve fish habitats.

The purpose of this special report is to identify key opportunities to improve the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). It is based on a review of Board recommendations from reports published since 2010 and the British Columbia government’s response to those recommendations.

In this report, the Board identifies five priority recommendations, discusses why they continue to be priorities in 2017, and describes the status of government’s implementation.

Monitoring and continuous improvement is a foundational piece in the BC results-based model of forest and range stewardship. The role of government’s Forest and Range Evaluation Program (FREP) is to monitor results on the ground to ensure planning and practices, as well as policy, are effective in meeting government objectives for sustainable forest and range management, as established in the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).

The Forest Practices Board evaluated FREP’s progress in implementing its effectiveness monitoring role in the FRPA framework, using FREP’s intended program outcomes as the evaluation criteria. This is a report on the Board’s findings.

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.

District managers for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are the government decision-makers who are “closest to the ground.” These are the government officials who review and approve resource development on public land.

In recent years, the Forest Practices Board has seen situations arise where forestry development was putting local environmental and community values at risk, yet district managers could do little to affect the development and protect the public interest.

This special report is intended to highlight issues that the Board has observed and to stimulate public discussion of potential solutions. The report is based on previously published Board reports, supplemented by interviews with district managers.

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.