South Coast and Vancouver Island Forest Roads Under Investigation

Victoria – The Forest Practices Board will investigate maintenance of forestry roads and bridges in the southwest part of the province this fall. Current forestry legislation requires government and forest companies that have road permits to maintain roads and bridges to ensure public safety and to protect the environment.

Three teams of investigators will look at forestry roads in the Squamish, Campbell River and South Island Forest Districts. The focus is on roads and bridges under road permit, road-use permit or cutting permit, where maintenance obligations exist.

Field work will be carried out in late October and a report will be prepared over the winter. Any party that may be adversely affected by the report will have a chance to respond before the report is finalized and published in spring 2010.

Roads and bridges are recognized as sources of erosion and sedimentation that may impact aquatic habitat, cause damage to licensed waterworks and remove valuable land from timber production. Additionally, they can require significant expense to maintain.

In recent years, concerns with road and bridge maintenance and safety have received attention and have been brought to the forefront through a number of projects by government agencies and associations, including WorksafeBC, the Auditor General and the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman, as well as the Forest Practices Board.

The investigation will examine road and bridge maintenance practices such as structural integrity, whether culverts are functional, whether fish passage is maintained, whether roads can be safely used by industrial users and whether systems are in place to track inspections and repairs. Road deactivation practices will also be examined, including establishment of barricades to prevent access to motorized vehicles, removal of bridges and culverts and signage to warn road users of deactivation.

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.

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Helen Davies

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4708 / 1-800-994-5899

October 29, 2009