Islands lead the way on protection of sensitive feature

  • Jan. 12, 2007 6:00 p.m.

The islands are leading the way province-wide in identifying and protecting karst formations, according to a special report by the Forest Practices Board, “Protecting Karst in Coastal BC”. Karst is a type of rock formation, and occurs where water dissolves limestone, creating sinkholes, disappearing streams and caves. Most of coastal BC’s karst formations are found on Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island.
Recently, the Queen Charlotte Islands Forest District manager implemented the first karst identification order in BC, says the report. His order identified three types of karst features: karst caves; “significant” surface karst features, and “very high or high vulnerablity” karst terrain. Under this identification, only features rated with high vulnerability are now protected.
The report, which was released January 11, says karst is a valuable resource with direct economic and environmental values. BC’s karst caves attract caving enthusiasts from around the world to marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites. The caves also have scientific and cultural values as they preserve fossil records from prehistoric times and were used by First Nations peoples for shelter, burial sites and ceremonial purposes. The dissolved nutrients, fractured bedrock, and well-drained soils of karst terrain is excellent for growing forests and for supporting rare and diverse animal and plant species, according to the report. Karst terrain can be damaged by forest practices such as road building and by introducing logging debris, sediments and pollutants into karst by water flow. In 2002, a contractor in Kootenay Inlet on Moresby Island, filled in or blew up previously identified and marked karst depressions where surface streams went underground. There was no way to repair or undo the damage, and a $50,000 fine was imposed on the company’s owner by the Ministry of Forest’s District Manager Len Munt. (The case was later appealed and the penalty withdrawn). What went wrong in the first place? There had been good planning and preparation, but they failed to prevent damages as the contractor and equipment operators did not realize the sensitivity of the karst features, according to the report. Since this event, there have been changes in regulation of forest practices, which now place more responsibility on licensees, contractors and equipment operators to ensure field practices do not damage features like karst. To avoid damage, forest practices do not need to avoid karst areas, but will often have to be modified. Cave entrances, limestone outcrops, disappearing streams and sinkholes are reasonably obvious but assessing their sensitivity requires professionals.
The report concludes that karst is a sensitive resource, that the government can identify karst that needs protection, and that once identified, it is up to the licensees, contractors and their equipment operators to recognize it and to determine when to call in professionals.
The question remains, according to the report, as to whether or not these changes will prevent future damage to these sensitive geologic features. The full report is available at www.fpb.gov.ca. More information on karst can be found in an MoF on-line training course at: www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/training/00008

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Registration open for first-annual ‘NextIslandpreneur’ student business competition

Competition offers mentors, iPads, seed money, cash prizes to young entrepreneurs on Haida Gwaii

Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

‘Upholding Haida law amid COVID-19’ release comes one day before Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to reopen

PHOTOS: ‘Phengnominal’ gnome house constructed in Port Clements

‘Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk,’ created by Kelly Whitney-Gould, a hit for kids and loggers alike

Councillor resigns mid-term in Queen Charlotte

Richard Decembrini’s resignation announced at regular meeting on July 6

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

RCMP confirm homicide investigation underway near Quesnel

Police releasing few details four days after homicide occurred Monday, July 6

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Most Read