Plans for livestock grazing questioned

VICTORIA – A report released today says that planning requirements for grazing livestock on public lands are not being met, and the Forest Practices Board is recommending that government look at eliminating the preparation of detailed plans for most ranchers and giving them practice requirements that they must follow instead.

Under the province’s Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), a person who grazes livestock on public land must prepare a range plan that describes how they will carry out practices consistent with government’s objectives for management of the range resource.

“Many plans did not meet even the basic requirements, but were approved anyway,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. ”We started this investigation because of previous findings that there were impacts to grasslands and streams from grazing,” Fraser continued. “What we found is that the current planning process is unlikely to improve that situation. What is needed is a more practical approach to range management.”

The investigation found that many plans were missing basic content, such as the number of livestock being grazed. Most plans did not show how range practices would be consistent with government objectives, and actions and commitments were unclear and unenforceable. Many ranchers appeared to have difficulty with key measures of grassland health in the legislation that governs when livestock can be put out to graze and when they should be brought in to prevent overgrazing.

The investigation looked at 200 range plans from 18 Ministry of Forests and Range districts across the province. There are over 1,500 range tenures in B.C. that require a range plan for grazing livestock or cutting hay, and the number of livestock on a tenure can range from just a few to several thousand.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

More information can be obtained by contacting:

Helen Davies, Communications
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4708 / 1-800 994-5899