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.

This special report has been prompted by multiple concerns and complaints received by the Forest Practices Board about outdoor recreation activities and how recreation values are managed under FRPA. This report will determine how forestry planning and practices are addressing forest recreation values under FRPA

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.

A summary of  findings of the 23 audits published in 2013 and 2014 that draws attention to the number of failures to follow Wildfire Act requirements. This trend is concerning to the Board, especially as we enter into a summer following historic low snow packs in many areas of the province, and are seeing an early start to the wildfire season.

Of the 23 audit reports, 11 had no concerns noted, and 12 had a total of 24 concerns reported. Of particular concern to the Board is that one third of the findings relate to the Wildfire Act. The Board encourages all licensees, big and small, to pay particular attention to fire protection activities this coming season.

In 2005, the Board reported on the state of access management in BC. The Board identified issues that reduced government’s ability to provide positive benefits and prevent negative effects of resource roads. While there has been some progress in the intervening decade, many of the issues remain.

This special report provides an update to the 2005 report. The Board undertook this report in the interests of advancing the state of access management in British Columbia. Given the continuing and emerging issues with resource roads, it is time to review what has happened in the intervening years since the Board’s 2005 report was published and to summarize the current situation.

The Forest Practices Board participates in appeals to the Forest Appeals Commission under the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. These appeals concern administrative penalties (which are issued by government officials, rather than by the courts), remediation orders and government decisions concerning approval or rejection of forest stewardship plans, range stewardship plans, or range use plans. This report summarizes the work of the Forest Practices Board in administrative appeals from April 1, 2009, to December 31, 2014. Previous reports have summarized the periods from 1995 to 2001 and 2002 to 2009.