Approval of development over the Goat River trail and near the Goat River

Complaint Investigation 000250
December 2001

In July 2000, the Fraser Headwaters Alliance (FHA) filed a complaint with the Forest Practices Board about whether operational plans prepared by Zeidler Forest Industries in the Robson Valley complied with the Forest Practices Code. That licence is now held by McBride Forest Industries Ltd. Specifically, the FHA charged that a road approved in the plans was improperly located on the bank of a fish-bearing stream (Goat River), and that the plans do not adequately manage and conserve a trail now used for hiking (the Goat River trail).

The Ministry of Forests district manager approved two alternative corridors for a road to access cutblocks in the Goat River watershed. The two routes were proposed in two separate forest development plans. The district manager approved the routes, with the intention of deciding the final location when road layout and design work is submitted for approval later. The plans also approved a cutblock that would impact a historical trail.

The Board’s report concluded that the district manager did not comply with the Code when he approved a lower route on the bank of the Goat River because he did not ensure conditions for allowing a road next to a stream had been met. Further, since environmental concerns about the lower route and an upper route alternative were not resolved, he could not have been satisfied that either route shown in the forest development plan would adequately manage and conserve forest resources.

Because the LRMP provided the best guidance for managing the Goat River trail, it was appropriate for the district manager to place considerable weight on LRMP direction in making his FDP determinations. The 1998 and 1999 FDPs were consistent with the LRMP’s strategies for managing trails. It was therefore appropriate for the district manager to be satisfied that the FDPs would adequately manage and conserve the Goat River trail. However, the silviculture prescription was not approved consistent with conditions regarding the trail, which were set out in the FDP approval letter. The Board therefore found that it was inappropriate for the district manager to be satisfied that the silviculture prescription adequately managed and conserved the Goat River trail.

The licensee and the Ministry of Forests have continued to assess the impact of the lower route on stream and fisheries values. The Board is recommending that the district manager, after considering those assessments, provide a rationale to the Board and the public for the selection of a final road location. The rationale should revisit the requirement to adequately manage and conserve forest resources, and to locate roads outside of riparian management areas unless the exceptions in the Forest Road Regulation (FRR) apply.

The Board also stressed that it is important for licensees and district managers to address important issues about a proposed road location in a forest development plan before approval. In some situations, that may require completing detailed assessments prior to forest development plan approval, rather than after the approval, as would typically occur.

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