Forest Practices Board
VICTORIA – In a new report on the state of access management, the Forest Practices Board estimates that B.C. now has over 600,000 kilometres of resource roads and concludes that the provincial government’s information about and management of these roads remains inadequate.
“It is extremely difficult for the public and other users of resource roads to have any reliable idea of where roads are and whether they are accessible or safe for travel,” said board chair Tim Ryan.
“Resource roads are a multi-billion dollar public asset and a liability. Government is not managing them to ensure we maximize the positive benefits of public investment in road development and minimize the negative impacts roads can have.”
The report identifies three key areas of concern; inventory, strategic management and operational issues.
Three quarters of the existing roads in the province were built by the forest industry, with the oil and gas and mining industries responsible for most of the rest. Much of this resource road network is not useable for industrial purposes and is in some state of deactivation. However, many of these roads still present risks to the environment, fish and wildlife, and provide unintended public access in some areas.
The report makes a number of recommendations to government, including:
• a website (or wiki) that allows collaborative editing of road location and status;
• implementing the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman’s recommendation for a new public highway designation for resource roads that provide access to communities;
• enabling the setting of objectives for access and public notice requirements; and
• policies and minor legislative amendments to address operational issues.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.