Range Use Near Midway, BC

Complaint Investigation 000238
January 2001
FPB/IRC/38


The complainant has operated a woodlot on his land near Midway, 60 kilometres east of Osoyoos, for 30 years. For the last 15 years, the woodlot has included 600 hectares of Crown land. The complainant is a professional forester and professional agrologist and is proud of managing the private and Crown land of the woodlot in what he considers to be an environmentally sensitive way. On and around the Crown land portion of his woodlot, neighbouring ranchers hold grazing licenses, with livestock use regulated under range use plans.

In 1998 and 1999, the Ministry of Forests staff took short-term enforcement actions against the complainant for administrative matters related to his woodlot. In response, the complainant filed a complaint with the Board asserting poor government management of range resources. In this report, the Board considers the adequacy of range use plans near the woodlot to manage and conserve forest and range resources.1

Conclusion

Although the complainant was able to show localized impacts of over-utilization of the range by livestock, the complaint about poor management of range resources was not substantiated. The range use plans, as approved, complied with the Code and were adequate to manage and conserve forest and range resources. However, the Board has some concerns about the soundness of range management generally. Those concerns are discussed in the next section.

Commentary

Most Crown range is under forest cover, but actual grasslands, with no or very sparse forest cover, are rare in BC. About 70 percent of the province's grasslands are on private lands concentrated in valley and mid elevation areas. Crown range that consists of grasslands requires thorough and careful management and conservation of range resources.

In the circumstances of this complaint, the local range management practices appeared to follow standard provincial practices. However, those management practices raise some concerns for the Board. The preparation, public review and enforceability of range use plans appear to be much less comprehensive than the Code contemplates. Government, not the holders of grazing licences, carried out the assessments and collected and analyzed the data required to prepare the range use plans. Government, not the holders of grazing licences, prepared the plans and put them out for public review and comment. Those practices, while standard, are not what the Code describes. The Code contemplates a comprehensive range management plan, not just a livestock use plan. The Board also has concerns about government's monitoring of range condition. District staff confirmed that baseline range condition data are no longer being collected by government.

The Board, thus, has concerns about the adequacy of provincial management and conservation of range resources. Although those concerns could not fairly be examined within the restricted scope of this complaint, the Board appreciates the complainant bringing the concerns and issues to the attention of the Board.

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