Forest recreation interests in B.C. have been ignored for decades, report reveals | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Forest recreation interests in B.C. have been ignored for decades, report reveals

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. is calling on the province to provide clear objectives for the province's forestry recreation sites and trails following a report on the industry by the Forest Practices Board.
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May 23, 2021 - 7:00 AM

A report by the Forest Practices Board reveals management of B.C.’s forest recreation resources has failed to protect the province’s forest recreation interests.

The Forest Practices Board, considered B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, published the special report earlier this week after hearing many concerns and complaints about how governments and licensees have been managing forest recreation in the province.

Investigators heard from forest recreation groups, government staff, forest industry staff and commercial resort operators and found issues with access management to recreational sites and trails, logging impacts, and user group conflicts.

The board found the province has done little planning for recreation resources over the past two decades, and has no blanket objective for recreational resources.

There are few up to date objectives for recreation sites and trails, and few recreation resources are protected through government regulations.

The board report identified several key areas for improvement in the province’s handling of its recreation resources, including:

  • improving information about recreation resources
  • increasing efforts to plan and improve forest recreation resources
  • setting objectives for recreation resources to ensure they are protected from the impacts of forestry actions.

"Recreation is part of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) framework and makes up one of the 11 FRPA values for which government may set objectives to manage and protect under the Act, however, it's the only value without an objective which means that forestry companies have no obligation to consider recreation resources when carrying out logging activities on Crown lands,” Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. executive director Louise Pedersen said in a statement released yesterday, May 18.

Pedersen said the industry has been destroying recreation trails for years and nothing can be done about it because recreation values don’t need to be taken into consideration.

"This needs to change. By establishing a clear objective for recreation in the Forest and Range Practices Act, it becomes mandatory for logging companies to work together with recreation stakeholders through collaborative planning to find solutions where industry can thrive and recreation values can be maintained,” she said.

Pedersen also pointed out provincial forest recreation staffing is overly lean, resulting in insufficient resources to properly maintain and manage recreation resources in the province.

The Outdoor Recreation Council called the present “rapidly increasing demand for outdoor recreation" an ideal time to advocate for increased budgets for the province’s Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. The agency looks after 20,000 kilometres of trails and numerous recreation sites, all located on Crown land, throughout the province, on a budget of around $8 million.

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