Government Land Management Processes and the Upper Goat

Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP):

The upper Goat River was a hot topic at the Robson Valley Land and Resource Planning (LRMP) table, a multi-interest process that began in 1994 and lasted four years. Ostensibly consensus-based, the LRMP was intended to "provide greater land use certainty, preserve natural areas for future generations, maintain resource-sector jobs for local workers and increase opportunities for tourism and recreation." However, constraints placed upon the process by the provincial government prevented the table from arriving at innovative solutions, and in the end, the interest groups represented failed to reach consensus on several key issues, including the fate of the upper Goat. In the absence of consensus, an Interagency Management Committee made up of government bureaucrats from various agencies drew up a plan and submitted it to Cabinet for approval. The Robson Valley Land and Resource Management Plan was passed by Cabinet in April 1999.

A critical part of the LRMP process was the designation of new parks and protected areas. The upper Goat was a prime candidate in this regard, with 35,000 hectares of intact habitat, no road access, and high wildlife values including Chinook salmon and mountain caribou. Nearly half of the interest groups at the table agreed that the upper Goat should be protected. In the final plan, however, the Interagency Management Committee chose to instead protect portions of the West Twin Creek watershed and the lower Goat River watershed, an area totaling 32,500 hectares.

West Twin PP clearcut The LRMP neglects to mention that the area protected at the West Twin has been heavily logged, including some of the worst clear-cuts in the Robson Valley and serious stability concerns related to poorly constructed logging roads (See satellite imagery of the park). As well, the new park encompasses two major transportation corridors (highway 16 and the Canadian National Railway) and surrounds several private lots. Meanwhile, the pristine upper Goat was designated a "general resource use zone," allowing the extraction of at least 445,000 m3 in the first pass. These decisions were not based on sound conservation science, but rather driven by government's goal of meeting their protected area target (12% provincially) while allowing industry to continue liquidating old-growth ecosystems at an unsustainable rate.

The LRMP also included management recommendations for the Historic Goat River Trail, which traverses the upper Goat watershed. Page 97 states the "development plans must manage for the historic Goat River Trail." In late November, 2001, McBride Forest Industries built one kilometre of road over the trail with the approval of the Ministry of Forests . Here is an aerial image of the new road and adjoining logging blocks.

Forest Practices Board:

In July 2000, the Fraser Headwaters Alliance with help from Sierra Legal Defense Fund (now Ecojustice) submitted a formal complaint to the Forest Practices Board regarding development in the upper Goat. The Forest Practices Board is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the BC Forest Practices Code, provincial legislation passed in 1995 that sets minimum standards for forest development.

Our complaint deals with three issues, two of which relate to the upper Goat:

  1. The fact that McBride Forest Industries' Forest Development Plan does not adequately conserve the forest resource of recreation because two cutblocks are located on two kilometres of the principal recreation feature of the area, the Historic Goat River Trail.
  2. The fact that the road proposed by McBride Forest Industries to access the upper Goat is located on the bank of a salmon-bearing stream, in violation of the 50-metre no-harvest Riparian Reserve Zone set out in the Forest Practices Code.

Here is the Forest Practice Board's full investigative report on the complaint.

Copyright 2010, Fraser Headwaters Alliance