More transparency needed in Rocky Mountian Trench logging plans

VICTORIA – McBride Forest Industries and the Headwaters Forest District should provide more detailed information in logging plans for the Rocky Mountain Trench, the Forest Practices Board reported today.

The board investigated a complaint by the Fraser Headwaters Alliance. The complainant was primarily concerned about the licensee’s ability to meet the visual quality objectives (VQOs) in the Robson Valley Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP). The complainant objected to the district’s approval of the licensee’s logging plan, which allowed an exemption from the VQO standards if the licensee believed it would be difficult to meet them when salvaging beetle-infested trees.

The board concluded that the actions of the licensee and the district, in trying to address the mountain pine beetle outbreak in the area, did not result in any damage to forest resources. The board found one amendment to the logging plan did not meet legal requirements, as it showed only large areas within which logging would take place, rather than specific cutblock boundaries as required by legislation. The board also found the district manager did not have the authority to approve the exemption from VQO standards in the plan, at the time the approval was granted.

“This logging occurred in the context of a severe mountain pine beetle infestation, and the licensee anticipated difficulties in maintaining required standards for forest practices under those conditions,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “While the board recognizes the unique challenges posed by the beetle epidemic, we believe the Forest and Range Practices Act provides sufficient flexibility for licensees to meet those challenges within the law.”

The board recommends the licensee give the public an opportunity to review the large undefined logging zones when preparing its forest stewardship plan (FSP) for the area subject to complaint. This plan must be approved by December 31, 2006, under current timelines.

“In our recent special report, the board recommended that FSPs need to provide more details on specific logging locations within the area covered by the plan,” said Fraser. “In this case, we hope the licensee will provide sufficient geographic detail to allow for effective public review of the FSP in question.”

Other findings of the investigation include:

With a few exceptions, the licensee is meeting the VQOs set by the Robson Valley LRMP.
Logging in a recreation and conservation area complied with both the LRMP and provincial legislation.
Logging and road-building near a fish stream did not comply with legal requirements, but these minor contraventions had no significant impacts on forest resources.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the achievement of its intent. 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.

Erik Kaye

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899