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Squamish Bridges need repair according to Forest Practices Audit


Small business forest enterprise program still complies with Code

The Squamish Forest District needs to improve its bridge inspections and completion of repairs to avoid potential user safety issues, according to a recent audit by the Forest Practices Board.

Otherwise, the Ministry of Forests’ small business forest enterprise program complied with the Forest Practices Code.

The board, an independent public watchdog established in 1995, publishes reports about compliance with the Forest Practices Code.

The latest report found bridge maintenance lacking on certain bridges on forest service roads in the Squamish district.

The audit assessed 25 of the 26 bridges that the SBFEP is required to inspect and maintain. Ten bridges were not inspected at the frequency required by the code. The board also found 20 of the inspection reports did not contain all of the required information. Two bridges were unsafe for use and required repairs were not completed.

"Findings related to the condition of these bridges are of concern," said board chair Bill Cafferata, "Lack of attention to inspections and repairs can lead to safety issues, not only for drivers of industrial vehicles, but also for the public who use forest service roads."

The board noted that the Squamish Forest District acted promptly in response to the audit with plans to minimize the possibility of injury or harm to the environment.

The audit examined the Squamish forest district's forest planning and practices, for the period Sept. 1, 2000 to Sept. 23, 2001, in the following areas: operational planning (including forest development plans and silviculture prescriptions); timber harvesting; road construction, maintenance and deactivation; silviculture and fire protection.

Specific forest practices audited included the harvesting of 14 cutblocks with silviculture prescriptions, the harvesting of 27 areas under silviculture exemptions, construction of 11 road sections, totalling 18.5 kilometres, construction or modification of one bridge, maintenance of 26 bridges and major culverts and approximately 219 kilometres of road, involving activities such as road surfacing and the cleaning of culverts and ditches.

Also audited were permanent and semi-permanent deactivation on 11 roads, totalling 36.8 kilometres, and free growing obligations on 16 cutblocks.

The activities carried out by the Squamish SBFEP during the audit period were approved in the 2000-2004 forest development plan.

In addition, a total of 23 silviculture prescriptions and amendments were approved during the period.

The Squamish SBFEP was selected randomly and not on the basis of performance or location.

The Squamish forest district encompasses 1.1 million hectares in Sea-to-Sky country. District boundaries stretch roughly from Lions Bay at Howe Sound east to Harrison Lake, north to Anderson Lake, and west to the headwaters of the Lillooet River.

The main role of the board is to audit forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands, as well as government enforcement of those practices, as per the Forest Practices Code.

The board also investigates public complaints, and undertake investigations specific to code-related forestry issues.