Access Management in British Columbia: Issues and Opportunities
Board Recommends Improved Management of Resource Roads
VICTORIA – In a special report released today, the Forest Practices Board reports that B.C. has between 400,000 and 500,000 km of resource roads – the distance from the earth to the moon – yet the provincial government’s management of these roads is not as effective or co-ordinated as it should be.
The report, entitled Access Management: Issues and Opportunities, found there is no process for industrial road users to co-ordinate road access, minimize environmental impacts and costs associated with road building, and reduce the number of roads built overall.
“We anticipate another 20,000 to 30,000 km of new road will be built each year for the next 10 years,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “This increase in the road network is driven by expanded oil and gas and mining activities, as well as salvage of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.”
“The board understands that government is looking at consolidating resource road legislation. This is an opportunity to address key issues in our report, such as improving co-ordination in order to reduce the amount of new roads and their environmental impacts.” said Fraser. “We are recommending that the legislation be completed as soon as possible.”
Other issues raised in the report include:
- Lack of inventory: the Province does not know precisely how much road we have, and who is responsible for looking after the existing road network.
- Lack of public involvement: very little opportunity for public input on decisions to create new roads, and close existing roads.
- Recreation access: no effective process to restrict public access to environmentally sensitive areas, or to enforce access agreements where they already exist.
- Legislative overlap: multiple pieces of legislation govern the construction and maintenance of resource roads
- Inconsistent standards: different requirements for forestry, oil and gas and mining companies that build and maintain roads.
The report also recommends that government develop a policy on public access restrictions on Crown land. The board requests that the provincial government respond to the recommendations by Dec. 31, 2006.
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.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899