Damage from fighting forest fires fixed
VICTORIA – Government is effectively rehabilitating damage to forests caused by fire fighting, according to a Forest Practices Board special investigation report released today.
Today’s report examines the rehabilitation of 12 forest fires in the southern half of the province, all of which burned during 2003, the worst fire season on record in British Columbia. The investigation found legal rehabilitation requirements were generally met and rehabilitation treatments were effective in maintaining natural drainage patterns and minimizing soil erosion. The board commends all those involved with the rehabilitation of the fires.
The report is the second of two reports on fire rehabilitation planning. The investigation focuses on repairing damage resulting from fire suppression—not the fire itself—as current legislation only requires damage caused by fire fighting operations to be rehabilitated.
“Despite the unprecedented scale of the rehabilitation work required after the 2003 fires, we found that environmental values were managed appropriately on sites damaged by fire fighting,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “As a result of our investigation, we are also recommending some improvements to fire rehabilitation practices in order to protect forest values and, where possible, avoid causing damage in the first place.”
The report makes a number of recommendations, including: enhanced training for fire fighters to minimize damage from fire suppression; proactive planning before fire season to better co-ordinate fire response and identify sensitive areas ahead of time; and a review of the arbitrary requirement for rehabilitation plans to be submitted within 10 days of the fire being declared out. The board requests that the Ministry of Forests respond to these recommendations by Dec. 31, 2005.
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The board’s main roles under FRPA are:
- Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
- Auditing government enforcement of FRPA.
- Investigating public complaints.
- Undertaking special investigations of forestry issues.
- Participating in administrative appeals.
Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899
February 14, 2005