Deferral on Community Watershed Application Acceptable

Victoria – In a report released today, the Forest Practices Board concluded that government’s deferral on deciding whether to make the Hasty/Aylwin watershed a community watershed was reasonable. The watershed is located near Silverton, BC.

The report concludes the Board’s investigation of a complaint that the regional managers at the Ministries of Forests and Environment, Lands, and Parks failed to exercise their discretion to designate the watershed under the Forest Practices Code.

“Ministry officials met the requirements of the Code when they decided to defer the decision until criteria for evaluating community watershed applications were completed,” said Board Chair, Keith Moore. “The Code says they may designate an area as a community watershed, but they are not required to do so. In this case, they decided to wait until the criteria were completed before evaluating all applications on the same basis.”

The complaint was filed by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, on behalf of the Red Mountain Residents Association. The Association represents many of the licensed water users in the Hasty/Aylwin watershed who depend on the watershed for drinking and domestic water.

The complaint also asserted that the Ministry of Forests delayed the decision to allow a road to be constructed in the watersheds. However, the Board determined that even if the area was designated as a community watershed, the proposed road would still meet the basic requirements of the Code. Since the complaint was filed, the road permit has not been approved and the road has not been built.

The evaluation criteria have now been developed and the ministries are awaiting a number of applications for community watershed status, including a new Hasty/Aylwin application. “The Board has asked the government to ensure that applicants for community watershed status are kept well informed of the status of their application as the process moves forward” said Moore.

A watershed designated as a community watershed can receive additional planning and protection under the Code to ensure the water is adequately protected from forestry activities.

Created in 1995, the Board is BC’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The Board reports to the public and government about compliance with the Forest Practices 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

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964

November 17, 1998