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.