Mid Coast Audit Reports Harm to Marine and Stream Habitats

Victoria – The forestry operations of the Mid Coast district’s small business forest enterprise program generally complied with Forest Practices Code requirements, says a report released today by the Forest Practices Board. The only significant non-compliance involved harvesting along the marine foreshore and road construction next to a fish-bearing stream.

The report concludes the board’s audit of the government-run program under which the Ministry of Forests awards timber sale licences to small business licensees.

The audit identified significant non-compliance in two cutblocks logged using an A-frame, a method of harvesting that uses a yarder on a barge to haul logs from the shore into the ocean. Along 200 metres of the shore, large concentrations of wood debris, deposited along inter-tidal and sub-tidal zones, smothered highly productive marine ecosystems.

The audit also identified significant non-compliance involving construction of a road next to a fish-bearing stream. Problems included altering stream banks, piling timber on a stream, impeding fish passage, and causing sedimentation of the stream. The problems occurred because the stream was incorrectly classified on the road plan.

However, the board is pleased with the district’s pro-active response to the audit findings. The district has advised the board that it has changed its A-frame logging practices to include follow-up assessments to determine if sensitive marine habitats have been affected. The district also plans to increase enforcement to ensure logging debris is kept above the high-water mark, and address the non-compliance in the two A-frame cutblocks examined in the audit. According to the report, the district has removed logs and debris from the stream that were deposited during harvesting; implemented a new, more comprehensive procedure to examine road layout and design; and developed a plan to repair damage to the stream caused by road construction.

The board recommends that the Mid Coast forest district carry out its plan to conduct post-harvest underwater assessments and determine if problems found in the audit relating to A-frame logging occur throughout the district. The board also recommends that the district continue to perform post-harvest underwater assessments to monitor A-frame logging practices.

Road construction recommendations include that the district proceed with its plan to rehabilitate the damaged stream, ensure that road plans include correct stream classifications, adequately monitor contractor operations, and follow up on non-compliant activities.

The Mid Coast small business program was selected for audit randomly, not on the basis of location or level of performance. The district includes Bella Coola and Bella Bella and has operations along the central mainland coast from Cape Caution in the south to Sheep Passage in the north.

The audit examined planning and field activities related to timber harvesting as well as construction, maintenance and deactivation of roads carried out between Aug. 9, 1998, and Aug. 31, 1999. Activities included harvesting of two cutblocks using grapple yarding and 46 cutblocks using water-based harvesting methods; 24 operational plans; construction of 4.8 kilometres of road; layout and design for 0.6 kilometres of road; maintenance and deactivation of 65 kilometres of road; and construction and maintenance of nine bridges.

The audit of the Mid Coast small business forest enterprise program is the 31st compliance audit completed by the board. Eleven were clean audits, meaning the forest planning and practices met code requirements in all significant respects. Twenty were qualified audits, meaning that there was some significant non-compliance with the code. Most non-compliance was related to logging practices near streams and the construction, maintenance and deactivation of logging roads.

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:

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

John Cuthbert,

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964

Nicky Cain,

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964