March 24

March 24

Forest watchdog twice scrutinized Meadow Creek Cedar

The Forest Practices Board has investigated Meadow Creek Cedar twice in the last four years, validating some complaints while dismissing others.

The Forest Practices Board has investigated Meadow Creek Cedar twice in the last four years, validating some complaints while dismissing others.

The first case involved logging in the Leet Creek watershed south of Kaslo and resulted from a complaint filed by the Valhalla Wilderness Society in May 2007.

The society asked whether the company’s application to harvest a stand of windblown and beetle-attacked timber met legislative requirements for public consultation.

They also felt the proposed harvest was too large and was based on the company’s financial needs rather than concern for the forest’s health.

The society further criticized the Ministry of Forests’ monitoring and enforcement of the company’s harvesting and road building.

In its July 2008 report, the board concluded the company’s application met legal requirements for public consultation but its efforts were “nevertheless ineffective” because it didn’t allow enough time for meaningful input, nor communicate with the public after the application was granted.

Although most forest practices met legislative requirements, the company cleared a ditch and unplugged culverts “without the proper authority” as an emergency measure. It was also found to have inadequately maintained two culverts, but this did not cause environmental damage.

The board dismissed the complaint about the size of the harvest area, ruled the district manager’s approval was reasonable, and found the ministry’s enforcement was effective.

“In the end, the complaint was partially resolved, as the licensee took steps to remediate many of the problems identified by the complainants,” the report read.

“However, a total resolution could not be reached. The complainants wanted the licensee to commit to a more effective public consultation process, while the licensee wanted members of the public to come to it first before going to [the Ministry of Forests] or the board.”

Part of the problem, the report found, was that in 1993, Meadow Creek Cedar agreed to work with water users closely on its logging plans for the area. However, by 2006 the company had changed ownership and staff didn’t know about the previous commitment.

The second investigation looked at the company’s work in the Princess Creek watershed and resulted from a complaint filed by the Ainsworth Community Water Users in March 2009.

Although they didn’t have intakes on the creek, the group wanted a detailed hydrological assessment of the watershed, which they said was required by the company’s forest stewardship plan. They were additionally concerned given the geology of the area, which includes the Cody Caves.

However, the board’s report released that October found a formal assessment of the watershed was not required and that the company didn’t have to follow regulations around consumptive water streams because there were no licensed intakes on the creek.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent watchdog that monitors and oversees public land practices, as well as government enforcement of the Forest and Range Practices Act.