Harvesting and Road Construction near Private
Land in Clearwater

Complaint Investigation 020349
Summary Report
March 2003

In August 2002, a Clearwater resident bought a lot adjacent to a cutblock in the Clearwater Demonstration Forest, about 125 kilometres north of Kamloops. Road-building and harvesting plans for the cutblock had been through a public review and comment period and approved by MOF in 1999. The landowner knew the location of the planned cutblocks when she bought the property, but complained to the Forest Practices Board that a buffer should have been left between the cutblock and her property. She also felt the road to the cutblock was wider than necessary, which would make it harder to deactivate after harvesting.

The Board looked at whether the Ministry of Forests (MOF) complied with the Forest Practices Code when it approved the cutblocks, and whether the road met Code requirements.

The Code does not prohibit planning, approving and harvesting cutblocks adjacent to private land, so the Board found that MOF complied with the Code. Even though the MOF had no obligation to do so, a narrow buffer strip was left along the property line.

The road issue was less straightforward, due to evolving practices at MOF. The Forest Road Regulation (FRR) requires that road-clearing widths be defined to accommodate road construction, maintenance and safety. But in 2000, MOF stopped asking for road-clearing widths in its forms. The rationale was that each road clearing is different, and the principle of keeping clearings as narrow as possible to accommodate construction, maintenance and safety was to guide staff in deciding how much land to clear on each side of the road.

As a result, anyone using this form will fail to comply with the FRR, because they will not have defined the road-clearing width. But in terms of what happened on the ground, the Board found that the road was wider than it needed to be, contrary to the intent of the FRR. This was a very short road, however, and the Board found that the impact of the clearing width was not significant. MOF does not anticipate any trouble reclaiming the area.


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