Concerns expressed about local Interfor licence

The Forest Practices Board has expressed concern with a bridge and winter roads in an area managed by International Forest Products Limited’s (Interfor) Grand Forks Woods Division.

The board’s June 2010 audit of Interfor’s forest licence A18969 said that Interfor complied with all significant aspects of both the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act in regards to planning and field activities but said that the bridge area wasn’t safe or sound because it lacked proper abutment, ballast walls, timber load-bearing sills and was also cited for overall poor installation practices.

The licence sees forest activity in an area between Midway through to land around Granby Park and the board said the bridge was located at station 0+813 of the Deadeye 4700 road, or west of the northern tip of Gladstone Park, near Deadeye Creek, off Burrell Creek.

“What we found simply was that it wasn’t built according to the plan and as a result it was potentially unsafe,” explained Forest Practices Board Chair Al Gorley, who added that Interfor subsequently removed the bridge.

Andrew Horahan, Interfor’s regional manager for the Kootenays, said that while the temporary bridge was taken down, there are plans in place to build a new one that is up to code.

“We accept the findings and have taken corrective measures to address the concern, the temporary bridge has been removed, and future bridge installation will be made in accordance with approved plans,” Horahan explained.

“The bridge will be rebuilt and will be built to proper standards.”

He said that the bridge would be built sometime this year.

While the audit report identified no concerns for roads within the licence area that were constructed during the “drier months” it also stated that roads built during the winter were generally built to a “low standard.”

“Water isn’t flowing across the ground during winter time so that’s not a problem but when you leave a winter road, if you’ve potentially blocked the normal flow of water, then you need to make sure that you restore that by creating cross-ditches or doing whatever is necessary so that the water can move the way it naturally would’ve,” Gorley said.

“We found some situations where (Interfor) had left after the winter’s logging and hadn’t restored that natural drainage.”

Horahan also said that Interfor would be focusing on drainage to ensure that it would be fully compliant with all its planning and practices.

While the auditors expressed concern with the bridge and roads, it also said that Interfor displayed appropriate management for areas where there is a direct influence with water (riparian areas).

“Riparian areas are really important because the vegetation along streams affects the quality of the water and the temperature of the water and they’re really critical wildlife habitat areas in close to streams,” Gorley explained.

“What our auditors found in the course of this audit was that in fact, Interfor was paying close attention to those riparian areas and was taking measures to ensure that they were properly looked after.”

Horahan said Interfor would like to think that it, like the Forest Practices Board, values riparian management and said that proper practices are part of key business activities day in and day out.

Interfor’s Kootenay regional manager said that the company took over ownership of the tenure after Pope & Talbot went bankrupt and because of the bankruptcy, third-party forest certification, under the Sustainable Forest Initiative, had lapsed.

He said that Interfor was in the process of re-certifying that tenure this year.