Audit of Bulkley-area forest operations finds numerous issues

VICTORIA – An audit of the BC Timber Sales Program (BCTS) and timber sale licensees in the Bulkley Timber Supply Area (TSA) portion of the BCTS Babine Business Area found that most operational planning, harvesting and silviculture activities complied with legislation, but there were numerous problems with roads and bridges.

The audit found BCTS had a number of poor practices, including six bridges with structural safety issues. There were also problems with culvert installation and maintenance, and road maintenance issues that led to a small landslide. Several of the problems had been previously identified by government, but were not corrected. Overall, BCTS’s road maintenance system was not up to current standards.

Most timber sale licence holders met their obligations, with the exception of conducting fire hazard assessments following logging. One timber sale licence holder also failed to remove a temporary log crossing on an access road before spring freshet, which led to drainage issues.

“The number of issues with roads and bridges identified in this audit is concerning,” said Chris Mosher, director of audits for the Forest Practices Board. “We are also concerned that we continue to see issues with fire hazard assessments, as we have warned licensees that this is a legal requirement that we check in our audits.”

Following the audit, BCTS has taken actions, or has a plan to take action, to address the problems identified. The timber sale licence holder also addressed the natural surface drainage issue on its timber sale.

The audit area is located in northwestern B.C. BCTS has several operating areas across the Bulkley TSA. Nearby communities are Smithers, Telkwa, Witset and Fort Babine. The Traditional Territories of several First Nations also overlap the Bulkley TSA. During the two-year audit period, timber sale licensees harvested about 332,000 cubic metres of timber from 33 cutblocks, covering 1672 hectares.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board audits forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

Contact:

Darlene Oman, Communications

250 213-4705 / 1 800 994-5899