B.C. forests watchdog calls for further protection of fish-bearing streams

Recommended legislation targets “chronic problem” of logging road sediment in fish habitat

B.C.’s forestry watchdog is calling for legislation that will make the sector more accountable to a “chronic problem” of logging road sedimentation entering fish-bearing streams.

The Forest Practices Board recommended two amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) following a two-year case study of five B.C. watersheds. In its final report of a two-part special investigation, FPB noted most companies meet or exceed legal requirements to create riparian buffers – areas adjacent to streams that are critical for the protection of water quality and fish habitat — but this culture of good stewardship must now be broadened to include sediment runoff.

“A new culture for the management of sediment from roads into streams is needed!” the report reads. “Greater attention must be paid to sediment management in all phases of a road including design, construction, maintenance and deactivation. Government needs to set clear expectations in regulation to minimize sediment to protect fish habitat and water quality.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s backroad bridges being built better, forest watchdog says

Fish can adapt to periods of high sediment loads, as during the spring melt, but long-term studies show elevated levels caused by humans can be lethal. It is known to cover spawning beds and smother incubating eggs, starve fish of oxygen, cover feeding areas and change the general behaviour of fish.

FPB investigators examined fish passage and sediment at 200 sites over 133 kilometres of road, and a further 47 sites to evaluate the effects of tree harvesting on riparian buffers and channel condition. Of the 200 sites, 50 were identified as a sediment source, 37 of which were impacting or had the potential to impact fish habitat.

Of the five watersheds studied, the Ainslie, Owen and Pennask were found to be at high risk from sedimentation. The Woodjam is at moderate risk and the Memekay is listed as low.

B.C. rethinks tree planting after wildfires, beetles deplete forests

The board recommended priority actions to improve the protection of fish in the five case-study watersheds, and likely most other important watersheds across the province. The actions include watershed-scale planning, monitoring and implementation of erosion and sediment control at stream crossings during road design, construction, maintenance and deactivation.

The board’s suggested amendments to the FRPA would see enforceable requirements to minimize sediment entering streams, and updated guidance and standards for road construction and maintenance to clearly identify practices needed to minimize sediment contamination.

The FPB requested a response from the government by Nov. 1 this year.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

Residents warned to stay away from flooded Cache Creek park

Water might look shallow, but is several feet deep in places

Ashcroft receives grants to get new hot tub and lift station

‘The hot tub is a major benefit for many residents’

Cache Creek gets funding for improvements on Old Cariboo Road

Work will help to mitigate damage from water and debris flows during flooding

Pool opening provides ‘return to normality’ in an uncertain time

Ashcroft Pool has opened its doors for a shortened summer season

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read