Members of the public and stakeholders were invited to review and comment on a proposal to establish more than 12,000 hectares of old-growth management areas (OGMAs) in the Sea-to-Sky Natural Resource District.
Old-growth management areas help protect the biological diversity of old-growth forests by ensuring that stands from different ecosystem types are protected. These areas are excluded from commercial timber harvesting, which helps preserve plant ecosystems, wildlife habitat and cultural values.
Old-growth management areas were proposed within the following district landscape units:
- The Tuwasus, Sloquet North, Sloquet High and Sloquet South landscape units located along the west side of Lillooet River and extend from the Tuwasus River to the Sloquet River and community of Tipella at the mouth of Harrison Lake (4,961 hectares);
- The Lizzie landscape unit located along the east side of Lillooet Lake from Highway 99 to the Indian Reserve (Baptiste Smith) at the south end of Little Lillooet Lake (1,868 hectares); and
- The Mamquam landscape unit located north of Squamish from the Mamquam and Cheakamus river watersheds to Rubble Creek at the south end of Daisy Lake (5,305 hectares).
In the preparation of review materials, forest tenure holders are consulted and other planning materials are reviewed in order to develop OGMAs that consider a wide range of stakeholder interests and are most likely to be accepted. First Nations and public review provides additional oversight to this process and usually results in new information that can improve the final product leading to legal establishment.
As directed by the Land Use Objectives Regulation, First Nations and the general public were notified of the draft OGMAs and invited to make written submissions on the proposed land use objectives during a 60-day review period. This invitation appeared in three local publications, The Chief (Squamish) on May 22, 2014, and The Pique (Whistler) and the Whistler Question on May 20, 2014.
Letters informing First Nations of the project were mailed January 29, 2014, and then letters informing First Nations of the 60-day review were mailed May 14, 2014. The following First Nations were notified: In-SHUCK-ch, Kwantlen, Lil’wat, N’Quatqua, Seabird Island, Sechelt, Skawahlook, Squamish, Sto:lo, Sts ailes, Tsleil-Waututh, Xa xtsa.
May 22 to July 25, 2014
Two members of the public visited the district office to view the public review package, including maps, but did not provide any comments. One member of the public inquired about archaeological sites and this request was forwarded to the appropriate Squamish Nation representative. A First Nation with traditional territory in the area emailed a response and asked for further protection of OGMAs overlapping their identified culture sites. Another First Nation holding legal forestry tenure in the area provided operability mapping and showed there was potential overlap with several OGMAs with harvest interest areas.
Input leads to action:
This consultation opportunity initiated additional information being provided to the government, which resulted in a more informed decision. Feedback from First Nations resulted in an adjustment to the legal order and additional certainty for protection measures that were specific to a particular First Nation. Another First Nation identified potential conflict with their interest in forest harvesting, and this concern was resolved with adjustments to the OGMAs that totalled less than 20 hectares, which did not measurably impact the total amount of OGMA to achieve provincial targets. Although there were only a few members of the public who showed interest in reviewing the plan, the only feedback received was addressed sufficiently and no further follow-up was required.
More detailed information can be found in the relevant Landscape Unit Plan for Old-Growth Management Areas.
In April 2016, the Province announced that it had established 6,482 old-growth management areas under the Oil and Gas Activities Act. The OGMAs cover 186,198 hectares in 58 Landscape Units within the Sea-to-Sky Natural Resource District, the Sunshine Coast Natural Resource District, and the Chilliwack Natural Resource District. These OGMAs were originally established under the Land Act between 2000 and 2015, in consultation with First Nations and the forest industry, to protect them from forestry activity, by establishing them under the Oil and Gas Activities Act these areas will be protected from oil and gas activity.
This move addresses a recommendation in the 2012 Forest Practices Board Special Investigation Report on old growth management, and contributes to the regulatory alignment of resource development activities.
Further information on legal direction can be found here.