A special investigation by the Forest Practices Board has found logging destroyed Nazko area fisher and other fur-bearing mammal habitat west of Quesnel.
Kevin Kriese, FPB chair, told the Tribune the investigation was launched after two trappers lodged a complaint that logging had eliminated or destroyed their trapping areas between 2002 and 2017.
“We found that they had not fully cared for fisher habitat, both the government and the companies,” Kriese said. “The companies did some things, but what would happen is one company would leave behind fisher habitat but then someone else would come in and log that fisher habitat.”
Because there were many different licencees doing salvage logging in an uncoordinated way, they could not verify something had been left behind at the end of the day, he added.
“It may actually get harvested by these other licencees because they don’t know it was left behind.”
Kriese said the government moving forward is going to have to insist that salvage operations involve plans on what is going to be harvested and what is going to be left.
The same thing applies to wildfires, he added.
“There is work to do that pre-planning around the salvage of the fires, but that pre-planning did not happen with the mountain pine beetle harvesting. There is not enough habitat out there to sustain fisher in those trap lines going into the future.”
Better planning at the landscape level is necessary, he added.
“The same thing can be said around moose and the challenges we’ve had. The challenge with a lot of our issues is whether it’s to stop logging or do more logging and in the middle is trying to find solutions that allow better logging to deliver both the values on the landscape and keep timber supply, which is important to communities.”
Logging can continue, but it needs to be planned better, he added.
“If they planned their harvest and leave areas, and there was better access management and screening, simple tools like that would improve the moose habitat.”
Kriese is in the Cariboo to attend the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Associations annual general meeting taking place in Williams Lake Friday, and to meet with staff from the ministry of forests, and the Williams Lake and Quesnel mayors.
Prior to becoming FPB chair in August, Kriese was the assistant deputy minister of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“The Forest Practices Board is the only independent board of its type in Canada,” he said of his reason for wanting to become the chair. “It has a stellar reputation for doing good work and I admired their work for ages and thought if I ever had a chance to work with them I would.”
In September, the FPB announced plans to audit the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s small-scale salvage program and salvage licence holders in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Natural Resource District.
That audit is underway to examine whether harvesting, roads, silviculture, fire protection and associated planning, carried out between Sept. 1, 2017, and Sept. 28, 2018, met the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
Small-scale salvage is the recovery of trees that are wind-thrown, beetle-killed, damaged by fire or considered to be residue. Licence volumes must be 2,000 cubic metres or less.
In the past year, most salvage activities in the district took place near Williams Lake, Horsefly and McLeese Lake.
“Every year we do about eight audits that are randomly selected and this year it landed on this region. Our staff go out on the ground and actually look at what’s happening with road building and silviculture and the records of planning and what happens with true on the ground forest practices and see whether or not they are following both the regulations and professional standards,” Kriese said, noting they have about 20 staff members comprised of engineers, biologists and foresters.
Special investigation into the ministry of forests compliance and enforcement function
Kriese said a report will come out by Christmas with the findings from a special investigation into the compliance and enforcement function of the ministry of forests.
“We will look at whether or not the compliance and enforcement function is doing what the public expects. Is it set up properly? Is it delivering? What kind of results does it achieve? How does it measure its results?”