Prompt Action Needed to Protect Goat Habitat
VICTORIA – Prompt government action to define goat winter ranges is needed to protect mountain goat habitat in the Chilliwack Forest District and to balance forest harvesting with wildlife habitat conservation, the Forest Practices Board reported today.
The report is in response to a complaint by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee that a logging plan should not have been approved due to the potential impact on mountain goat habitat, and because an agreement was made between government agencies not to harvest the cutblock in question. The cutblock is located north of Stave Lake near Golden Ears Park, in the Fraser timber supply area (TSA) of the Chilliwack Forest District.
“While mountain goats are not an endangered species and logging this cutblock will not have a significant impact on their overall population levels, this is another example of a systemic problem with the pace of implementation of policies to protect wildlife habitat,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “By moving quickly to establish legally designated habitat areas for forest species such as mountain goats, the province can set a clear direction for local decision-makers and better conserve mountain goat populations in the Chilliwack Forest District.”
Under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection has the authority to establish ungulate winter ranges to help protect seasonal habitat for wildlife species such as deer and goats. In February 2002, ministry staff proposed such ranges for the Fraser TSA, including the cutblock in question, but their proposal has not received final government approval and was not in effect when the decision to approve logging was made.
The board recommends that government finalize ungulate winter ranges and general wildlife measures in the Fraser timber supply area, and report back on a timetable for implementation of this recommendation by March 31, 2005.
“We found that the decision to approve logging was reasonable given the absence of legally designated ungulate winter ranges,” said Fraser. “The Ministry of Forests district manager considered all available information, including conflicting opinions about the importance of this cutblock to the goats, when making his decision on the approval.
“While there was some discussion in 2002 between agency staff on not logging this cutblock, there are different views about whether that meant never logging the block, or not logging it until more information was gathered. We found no written agreement to clarify what was intended.”
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). 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.
This news release and more information about the board are available on the Forest Practices Board Web site atwww.fpb.gov.bc.ca or by contacting:
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899
March 18, 2005