Victoria -Two licensees' forest development plans
for logging north of Smithers were incomplete, the public review
process was flawed, and government administration and approval of
the plans was inadequate, the Forest Practices Board said in a
report released today.
The report concludes the investigation of a series of complaints
from the An Dsap Wilp Society, a group of first Nations people who
hunt, fish and trap on forest land in the Sustut and Bear Lake areas
in north-central B.C. Society members believed their interests were
harmed by the forest practices of Takla Track and Timber Ltd. and
Rustad Bros. Co. Ltd., who have logging operations 200 kilometres
north of Smithers.
According to the report, the board found three out of seven
issues raised by the society to be unsubstantiated. These included
assertions that Takla caused damage to streamside habitat and
contravened a stopwork order, and that ministry staff failed to
adequately inspect Takla's operations and to enforce a remediation
order. The remaining concerns were valid.
The board found deficiencies in the forest development plans that
both licensees put out for public review. According to the report,
the plans lacked adequate information about stream and wetland
classification and about mountain pine beetle management, a serious
forest health concern in the area. Information was also missing on
forest cover, topography, water, fish, wildlife and biodiversity;
and there was insufficient justification for cutblocks as large as
555 hectares where the code prescribes a standard maximum of 60
Although the board recognized that the licensees consulted
individually with 11 local forest users, the report notes this
one-on-one process missed the larger public. About 70,000 people
live in nearby communities.
The board concluded that both licensees failed to comply with
code requirements for public review and comment. "The public's right
to review and comment on forest development plans is an important
provision of the code," said board vice-chair John Cuthbert. "In
order to comment effectively, the public needs enough information to
understand what is being proposed and how forest resources will be
affected. Takla's and Rustad's plans were missing crucial
The board found that the Ministry of Forests district manager
also failed to comply with the code when he approved Takla's 1996
forest development plan. Takla's plan did not describe current
beetle infestation levels, assess potential risks or propose a
beetle management strategy, even though the ministry had advised the
company to do so. Under the code, the district manager can only
approve a plan if he is satisfied that the plan will adequately
manage and conserve forest resources.
The report cites Takla for failing to comply with the Forest Road
Regulation. The company's road construction and maintenance
practices were inadequate to deal with the area's unusually
fine-textured soils and resulted in erosion and sediment transport
into the Sustut, a highly productive salmon river. Only after the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Forests
issued several orders did Takla repair the problems. The board
recognized that Takla put a major effort into correcting the
problems and did more work than the government orders required.
The report also identifies a deficiency in the Forest Practices
Code. The board concludes that the code does not deal effectively
with environmental risks of damage from forest practices on very
fine soils that occur on gentle slopes. Surface erosion assessments,
which would have identified the erosion hazard and reduced the
sedimentation problems in Takla's operations, are only required in
The board recommends that Takla and Rustad produce well-organized
forest development plans that meet the full content requirements of
the code; and develop proactive and efficient strategies for
managing beetles and dealing with extraordinary soil conditions,
before developing new areas for logging.
The board also recommends that the district manager make sure
forest development plans meet code content requirements before they
are approved. Finally, the board recommends that the Ministry of
Forests implement measures to deal with a wider range of soil
conditions outside of community watersheds.
The board's main roles under the Forest Practices Code are:
- Investigating public complaints.
- Auditing government enforcement of the code.
- Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on
- Undertaking special investigations of code-related forestry
- Participating in administrative reviews and appeals.
- Providing reports on board activities, findings and
Phone: (250) 387-7964
Phone: (250) 387-7964