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

Just Posted

Mission Mayor Pam Alexis to run for the NDP

Will take on Liberal Simon Gibson in the Abbotsford-Mission riding

MEDICAL MOMENTS: Dr. Andrew Edelson has served Mission for more than 45 years

Why Mission? ‘Mostly because it’s such a wonderful community,’ he says

BC launches 22 new primary care networks, including one in Mission

Will be adding family physicians, a nurse practitioner and a social worker

Missing Chilliwack woman last seen on Wednesday

Friends and family concerned for Joy-Lynn Leon, 42, who was last seen Sept. 23 on Mary Street

Abbotsford has a COVID-19 rate 10 times higher than Chilliwack

Abbotsford has been much harder hit by COVID-19 than its neighbour to the east

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read