While most Forest Practices Board audits find good practices, more than 55 per cent of issues found since 2005 are with roads and bridges, with five times more issues detected in 2010 and 2011 than in the previous five years combined, according to a board report released today.
"Roads and bridges are a common problem area in our audits," said, board chair Al Gorley, "and poorly constructed or maintained roads and bridges create risks to workers, the public and the environment. The board is concerned that non-compliance has increased significantly over the past few years. An audit report the board also released today is a further example of these findings."
The board has been seeing an increase in licensees who appear to be cutting back on maintenance work and are using few or no culverts in road construction.
"Not all operators are taking these risks," said Gorley. "Most forest licensees are doing a good job and wehope they will influence some of the less compliant operators."
From 2005 to 2011, the board carried out 58 compliance audits involving 117 licensees and 17 BC Timber Sales districts, publishing its findings in 65 separate reports. Of those audits, there were 37 instances of n significant non-compliance, of which 22 were related to roads and bridges.
Road and bridge practices on B.C.'s Crown land are governed by the Forest and Range Practices Act and licensees operating under this act are subject to board oversight. However, the board is not currently mandated to audit similar activities carried out under other legislation, such as roads and bridges that might be constructed for oil and gas or hydroelectric projects.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.'s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.