Logging road in a river must address environmental concerns

VICTORIA -A proposed logging road along the Goat River should not have been approved by the Ministry of Forests without a rationale and before environmental concerns were addressed, the Forest Practices Board says in an investigation report released today.

The board’s report responds to a complaint filed by the Fraser Headwaters Alliance in July 2000, claiming that a road approved in plans prepared by Zeidler Forest Industries was improperly located on the bank of the Goat River, and that the plans do not protect the Goat River hiking trail. The licence, now held by McBride Forest Industries Ltd., is to harvest timber in part of the upper Goat River watershed near McBride. The approved road, which has not yet been built, would allow the company to access the watershed.

Roads can be approved in riparian management areas—near streams and rivers—only where specific conditions are met. The board found that the Robson Valley forest district manager was wrong to approve a route on the bank of the Goat River without ensuring those conditions were met. The district manager approved two possible route locations, intending to make a final decision at a later date. Since environmental concerns about both routes had not been resolved, the board decided the district manager should not have been satisfied that either route shown would satisfy the Forest Practices Code’s intent for protecting the environment.

The board felt the district manager was right to use the area’s land and resource management plan for direction in deciding whether proposed development fit into overall goals for land use in the area. The board interpreted the land and resource management plan to say the historic value of the trail should be carefully considered, but that development can occur over the trail under certain conditions. The district manager correctly concluded that the proposed development was consistent with the land and resource management plan. However, the district manager should not have approved a subsequent plan for a specific cutblock without knowing the exact location of the trail.

McBride Forest Industries and the Ministry of Forests have continued to study the potential impact of the lower route on the stream and fish. The board is encouraged that those recent assessments appear to have addressed the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ previous objections to the route along the river. The board is recommending that the district manager, after considering these studies, provide a rationale to the board and the public for the final choice of the road location.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog, established in 1995, that publishes reports about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent.

The board’s main roles under the Forest Practices Code are:

  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Auditing government enforcement of the code.
  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Undertaking special investigations of code-related forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative reviews and appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.

Bill Cafferata,Chair
Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964

Jacqueline Waldorf
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 387-7964
1 800 994-5899

December 20, 2001