Water Quality in the East Blackpool Watersheds

Complaint Investigation 980154
February 2001
FPB/IRC/39


Residents in the East Blackpool area near Clearwater were concerned that forestry activities above their properties would affect their domestic water supply. The properties are on a bench of land above the North Thompson River. The East Blackpool area contains several small separate drainages, including Lone Creek, Modrall Creek, Rennie Creek, Bester Creek, McCarthy Creek, and Axel Creek. The area falls under the Kamloops Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP) that was approved by cabinet in 1995 and declared a higher level plan in 1996. The LRMP establishes this area as a "general resource management zone."

Several watershed assessments were completed for the area, beginning in 1995. A committee was established that included Weyerhaeuser (the licensee), Ministry of Forests district staff, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks staff, and some residents of the East Blackpool area (the complainants). The committee developed guiding principles and recommendations for forestry activities in the area in 1996. In early 1997, the district manager and the licensee agreed to manage the area as if it were a community watershed although it was not designated as such under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act and its related regulations (the Code).

Water resources receive greater protection in community watersheds because the Code imposes stricter requirements for forestry and range activities. Code measures to protect community watersheds are intended to prevent long-term change to background water quality, quantity, and timing of flow. Apart from participating in the public review and comment process for forest development plans, there are no additional opportunities for the public to review and comment on operational plans that fall within a community watershed; however, water licensees can be represented on watershed advisory committees to review watershed assessments.

In 1997, the complainants applied to the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks for community watershed status for McCarthy and Axel Creeks. The ministry is still considering the application.

Despite the commitment from the district manager and the licensee to manage the area as if it were a community watershed, the complainants believed that forest development plans were not consistent with managing the area as a community watershed. A complaint was filed with the Forest Practices Board in 1998. Several of the complaint issues applied primarily to Cutting

Permit 129 (CP 129), the most recent proposal in the forest development plan. Twelve cutblocks were proposed in the Axel Creek area. The complainants made numerous assertions:

  • The equivalent clear-cut area (ECA) 2 was too large for a community watershed.
  • Logging was planned on steep slopes and highly erodable soils.
  • There was inadequate notice for review and comment.
  • Cutblocks extended to the edge of fish-bearing streams.
  • An access road for CP 129 was proposed to go through a rare ecosystem.
  • Adjacency rules3 were being violated.
  • Cutblocks exceeded the maximum 40-hectare size specified in the Code.
  • Code standards for road maintenance were not being met.
The road maintenance issue related to improper road surfacing. During a field trip attended by Board staff and participants in the complaint at the start of the investigation, that issue was addressed to the complainants' satisfaction.

Harvesting of CP 129 has begun and will continue through the 2000/2001 winter.

Conclusions

  1. The equivalent clearcut levels in the East Blackpool area were consistent with recommendations in the Community Watershed Guidebook.
  2. Assessments for cutblocks that were proposed on potentially unstable terrain complied with Code requirements. The results indicated that in most of the cutblocks the proposed development would not create a significant hazard for landslides or erosion of material into streams. One cutblock was deleted and another was deferred for further assessment.
  3. The opportunity for review and comment for the 1998 forest development plan met Code requirements. Although there was no additional notification and opportunity to review the 1998 plan, the East Blackpool residents have been receiving additional opportunities to review plans, and a meeting to be held during the review and comment period has now been scheduled on an annual basis. In the circumstances, the Board finds that the complainants' opportunity to review and comment on the forest development plans has been adequate.
  4. The access road for Cutting Permit 129 did not traverse a rare ecosystem and a more suitable alternative road location was not found.
  5. The cutblocks for Cutting Permit 129 located adjacent to streams complied with the riparian management practices required for community watersheds.
  6. The cutblocks for Cutting Permit 129 complied with the Code green-up and adjacency requirements.
  7. The cutblocks for Cutting Permit 129 complied with Code requirements for maximum cutblock size and met the objective of the Community Watershed Guidebook recommendations.
  8. Forest management proposed for Cutting Permit 129 within the East Blackpool area is consistent with management practices outlined in the Code for community watersheds.


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