Salvage logging threatening species at risk, says Forest Practices Board

An investigation of a complaint from two trappers has concluded salvage logging in the Nazko region is threatening the ability of the fisher population to survive, B.C.'s forest practices watchdog said Thursday.

A close relative of the martin but twice as large, the fur-bearing mammal is listed as a species at risk in B.C. and is at high risk of decline or local elimination in the region west of Quesnel, according to the Forest Practices Board

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"Our investigation found that government did not take steps to ensure protection of fisher habitat," said FPB chair Kevin Kriese.

"While licensees did make some efforts to protect habitat when designing individual cutblocks, these efforts were insufficient given the unprecedented scale of salvage logging across the landscape."

The trappers lodged the complaint after the region was subjected to extensive salvage logging between 2002 and 2017 in response to the mountain pine beetle outbreak. Forest fires also hit the area hard in 2017.

"The board is concerned that unplanned salvage of fire-damaged stands could make a grave situation even worse," continued Kriese. "We are recommending that government take steps to address fisher habitat needs and work to restore the local population over time."

The board also recommends that for any large-scale salvage logging operations in future, government ensures harvesting is coordinated between the various forest companies, addresses habitat needs of species at risk and is monitored to ensure it is properly implemented and effective.

Fishers like large stands of older forestswith lots of large trees, snags and coarse woody debris but areas of mostly-dead timber may still provide habitat for fishers

Impacts to fisher habitat in the Nazko area will also have implications for other species with similar habitat needs, the board added.

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