Funding requests for acceptable maintenance of forest service roads, to reduce safety risks and environmental impacts, can no longer go unheeded

Funding requests for acceptable maintenance of forest service roads, to reduce safety risks and environmental impacts, can no longer go unheeded

After reading this report,” remarked Conservative BC leader Trevor Bolin, “The same thing jumped out repeatedly; that was the issue of safety to both users and the environment.

 

According to the Auditors General’s recently released ‘Management of Forest Service Roads’ report (Tuesday January 19th), the state of 58,000 km of forest service roads (FSRs) on Crown land, (originally built by private industry to access timber for forestry operations), are in a questionable state of repair.

The report states that while forest service roads are not built or maintained for public use, safety is important due to usage for other business-related purposes and by communities and recreational users, making them ... an important part of B.C.’s transportation systems and help keep the province connected, including linking First Nations and remote communities to towns and cities. 

After reading this report,” remarked Conservative BC leader Trevor Bolin, “The same thing jumped out repeatedly; that was the issue of safety to both users and the environment.

For example, the Auditor General’s report noted:

- The ministry neither managed safety and environmental risks, nor completed necessary maintenance and repairs on roads and crossing structures such as bridges and major culverts.

- Information on inventory, inspections, and maintenance for FSRs was inconsistent, difficult to share, and at times inaccurate.

- Lack of reliable information makes it difficult for the ministry to assess whether the roads are inspected and maintained.

- 48% of the structures (bridges and major culverts) were overdue for high-priority repairs by just over two years on average.

- Natural resource districts did not receive the funding from the ministry identified as needed to maintain and repair roads according to policy. (Districts received between 14% and 20% of their total budget requests between 2017 and 2020.)

- Funding for maintenance was inadequate to maintain FSRs providing access to rural residences or high-value recreation sites.

This report makes it clear that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, and BC Timber Sales, need to be held accountable for their failure to follow their own policies with regards to inspection and maintenance on natural resource roads,” stated the Conservative leader

“It should also be noted that these are the same standards which the Ministry has no issue enforcing on companies who have absorbed all construction costs to build the roads used to develop our province, create tens of thousands of jobs, and generate massive revenue to government coffers through stumpage fees and taxes.

In the report, Auditor General, Michael Pickup noted three questions which he said should be asked of government. 

  1. How will the government prioritize investing more money in maintenance for forest service roads given the shortfalls that were identified? 
  2. How will the ministry balance public expectations to keep forest service roads safe for public use, with a mandate that does not require it do so? 
  3. How will the ministry assess which roads to deactivate to reduce maintenance costs, safety risks and environmental impacts when pressure exists to keep them open?

Funding requests for acceptable maintenance of these roads, to reduce safety risks and environmental impacts, can no longer go unheeded. Rural communities, property holder, hunters, anglers, and backcountry explorers all depend on safe access to these roads.

The Ministry must review its policies and practices in order to meet its own expectations for inspecting and maintaining forest service roads,” Bolin concluded.

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  • Dave Ryder
    commented 2021-03-06 09:04:28 -0800
    Thank you for your acknowledgment of environmental impact and the need for road deactivation