The area of an audit recently conducted by the Forest Practices Board of the Quesnel Natural Resource District portion of the larger BC Timber Sales Cariboo-Chilcotin Business Area. (Photo courtesy of Forest Practices Board)

Audit of Quesnel BC Timber Sales program finds issues, non-compliance

A audit of the BC Timber Sales program and timber-sale licensees in the Quesnel Natural Resource District has found poor results, the Forest Practices Board has released.

The audit examined activities in the QNRD portion of the larger BCTS Cariboo-Chilcotin Business Area, including harvesting of 106 cutblocks, totalling approximately 5,000 hectares, construction of over 130 kilometres of road and four bridges, road and bridge maintenance and deactivation, reforestation, wildfire protection and associated planning carried out between June 2018 and June 2019.

While timber sales licensees were fully compliant with the Forest and Range Practices Act, several had non-compliances with Wildfire Act requirements.

BCTS had several non-compliance issues under FRPA, as well as an unsound practice, the FPB said, noting they examined 18 licensees on 27 cutblocks, totalling 1,285 hectares.

Timber sale licensees constructed 126 kilometres and maintained 13 kilometres of road during the audit period. Auditors sampled 49 kilometres of constructed road and two kilometres of mainland road.

The audit found that BCTS did not meet FRPA requirements for construction of a road and three bridges and for not reporting silviculture activities to government.

READ MORE: B.C. Wildfire Service teams up with Tsilhqot’in National Government for firefighter bootcamp

“Although our recent special investigation found that bridge construction practices are better than what we found in 2014, this audit demonstrates that there is still room for improvement,” said Kevin Kriese, board chair with the FPB.

Two timber-sale licensees did not have a water delivery system on two cutblocks while conducting high-risk activities, which is in non-compliance with the Wildfire Act. Another licensee did not follow the recommendations in a terrain field assessment and only two of 11 timber-sale licensees completed required fire hazard assessments.

“We are also disappointed that we continue to see operators not documenting fire hazard assessments and some licensees not having proper firefighting systems on site as required by the Wildfire Act,” Kriese said.

“Given the risk that wildfire poses to communities, these are not acceptable results. We expect to see improvements to the program as a result of this audit work.”

Subsequent to the audit, BCTS informed the auditors that it has put corrective measures in place to ensure these types of issues do not happen again. It has since downgraded the unsafe bridge to a two-tonne load rating, and it add the other two bridges to the corporate bridge registry.

The FPB is an independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government.

The board audits forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement.

It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

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