There are concerns about logging impacting trails and wildlife habitat in Fernie. Photo taken on Coal Creek Road. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Elk Valley loggers compliant: Managed Forest Council

Council finds no evidence of non-compliance after two complaints about logging in the Elk Valley

The independent provincial agency that monitors private land logging in B.C. has found no evidence of recent non-compliance in the Elk Valley.

Over the past year, the Managed Forest Council (MFC) has responded to two complaints related to possible compliance issues in the Valley, one eighth of which is in private hands.

In a statement to The Free Press, the MFC said the first complaint was within a managed forest inspected last year as part of its annual inspection program.

“The second complaint included a site visit to various locations within a managed forest where the stakeholder had expressed a concern about riparian retention and reforestation,” said the MFC.

“No evidence was collected from either the inspection or site visit that a non-compliant forest management activity contrary to Council regulation had occurred.”

In 2015, the Council launched an investigation into possible impacts to a fish bearing stream within a managed forest in the Elk Valley.

It found the stream was not fish bearing and the prescription for the stream was appropriate for its classification.

According to the MFC, managed forests around the province are inspected a minimum of once every five years, regardless of activity.

Forests are inspected more frequently when the activities of an owner presents greater risk to key public resource values, such as soil conservation, water quality and fish habitat.

Since 2014, the MFC has conducted seven inspections in the Elk Valley with another inspection scheduled for this year.

It comes amid public concern about clearcutting in the Elk Valley and as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development prepares to launch a review of the private managed forest land framework.

LOOK BACK: City of Fernie to address logging concerns

In an email to The Free Press, a Ministry spokesperson said public engagement on the framework is expected to begin later this month.

In April, the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) supported the City of Fernie’s calls for tighter restrictions on private land logging, endorsing two resolutions at its annual convention.

LOOK BACK: AKBLG endorses Fernie logging resolution

The first resolution asks the Province to implement regulations and standards that are equivalent to those on Crown forest land that address forest harvesting for commercial purposes on private lands.

The second resolution calls upon the Province to grant local governments the authority to require private landowners to undertake annual consultations to provide information regarding long term disposition or development intentions for land adjacent to local government boundaries if intended for commercial purposes.

The resolutions will now go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for consideration at the 2019 convention, to be held in Vancouver from September 23-27.

What’s the difference between private land and managed forest land? Click here to read the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s explanation.

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