Audit of Boundary Forest District’s small business program shows improvements necessary to meet Forest Practices Code
VICTORIA- Forest practices in the Ministry of Forests’ Small Business Forest Enterprise Program (SBFEP) in the Boundary Forest District complied with most requirements of the Forest Practices Code, but there was poor performance in several important areas. These results are reported in a Forest Practices Board audit released today.
The district’s road deactivation activities did not meet Forest Practices Code requirements. Roads that were deactivated were not identified in the district’s forest development plan, and there was a lack of signs on the roads. “The public would not know which roads are planned for deactivation or were actually deactivated. This could result in safety issues, loss of access and confusion about what access is available,” said Keith Moore, Chair of the Forest Practices Board.
In addition, deactivation performed on several roads was not adequate to control water flow and stabilize the roads. Inadequate deactivation resulted in the deposit of sediment into a stream and caused two slides. “The Board is concerned that severe impacts can occur if roads are not properly deactivated,” said Moore.
Timber harvesting practices generally complied with Code requirements, however the audit identified numerous instances of non-compliance. In several cases, harvesting activities did not comply with operational plans.
In several areas approved for partial cutting substantially more trees were cut than authorized. In another instance, the district did not take adequate measures to ensure identified cultural heritage resource values were protected during harvesting.
“The district was being innovative by implementing partial cutting systems and a variety of logging methods,” said Moore. “However, plans must reflect the forest conditions and be achievable. It is also important that the district closely supervise operations to ensure the objectives are met and the planned number of trees are left. Operators need to have the right skill, experience and equipment to carry out the complex plans.”
During road construction, there were many instances where culverts were not installed or ditches were not constructed, or those constructed did not meet the requirements of approved construction plans or the Code. While the individual instances of non-compliance were not significant, the frequency of the non-compliance was.
The district’s road maintenance activities generally complied with the Code. However, the Board’s opinion in this part of the audit applies to those roads that access current SBFEP operating areas because the district could not identify all roads that are the responsibility of the SBFEP to maintain.
In its report, the Board makes a number of recommendations to the district to improve its procedures and ensure that operations under the SBFEP comply with the Code in the future. The Board also recommended that the district investigate and take enforcement action to address non-compliance.
The operations of the Boundary SBFEP are conducted in numerous locations around Grand Forks extending north from the Washington-British Columbia border to Big White Mountain, and east from the West Kettle River to Christina Lake.
The audit examined the district’s timber harvesting and road practices, including related operational planning for the period September 1, 1996 to September 15, 1997.
The Boundary SBFEP was randomly selected for audit from the Small Business Forest Enterprise Programs in each forest district in the province. The SBFEP is a program under which the Ministry of Forests awards timber sale licences to small business licensees. The Ministry of Forests and the individual licensees each have separate but interrelated roles and responsibilities within the program. The district is responsible for managing the SBFEP, including preparing and approving operational plans, much of the road construction, maintenance and deactivation, and meeting silviculture obligations. The district has a close working relationship with each licensee and an overall responsibility for managing the SBFEP and also ensuring that licensees have met their Code obligations.
Created in 1995, the Forest Practices Board is BC’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The Board provides British Columbians with objective and independent assessments of the state of forest planning and practices in the province, compliance with the Code, and the achievement of its intent. The Board’s main roles are: auditing forest practices, undertaking investigations in response to public complaints, undertaking special investigations of any Code related forestry issues, participating in administrative reviews and appeals and providing reports on Board activities, findings and recommendations.