The Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) for the Okanagan and Shuswap region was developed over five years through a stakeholder negotiation process which was ratified by all participants on September 9th, 2000 (see LRMP media release: Land Use Plan Ratified). The LRMP covers 2.5 million hectares from the U.S. border to the top of the Upper Seymour River valley and provides direction for the management of Crown land and resources. Under the current provincial government, land use planning is the mandate of the Integrated Land Management Bureau, a division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.
The entire land use plan can be downloaded from the LRMP website: www.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/slrp/lrmp/kamloops/okanagan/index.html. As well, this site contains updates on the implementation of the LRMP.
The LRMP consists of objectives, strategies and intent statements for all resource uses within the general management zone, such as timber, recreation, minerals, range, trapping, water and wildlife. For example, one objective for water is ‘Maintain the quality and quantity of ground water.: This objective includes this strategy, ‘Complete the aquifer classification mapping program for the plan area, and maintain and update this list as required.:
As well, the plan includes polygon specific resource management zones for critically important resources such as fish and aquatic habitat, recreation, visual management areas, community watersheds and specific wildlife such as grizzly bear and mountain caribou. These zones are mapped and have specific objectives and strategies that will help maintain and protect the specific resource values. For example the mule deer winter range zone (as mapped) helps ensure there is adequate forest cover to meet habitat requirements.
The LRMP direction was to become ‘higher level plans: as defined by the Forest Practices Code, under the previous NDP government. When the current Liberal government replaced the Code with the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) in 2004, the LRMP direction was re-defined as FRPA objectives with accompanying maps. SEAS has digital copies of these objectives and maps. Email email@example.com if you want more information.
The LRMP was completed with just one unresolved issue, how to protect the dwindling populations of mountain caribou. The caribou zone in the plan provides protection of approximately 10,000 hectares of habitat through the placement of old growth management areas (OGMAs). An additional 10,000-hectare area had been reserved from logging to allow research to be conducted to determine how much of this area is needed for the caribou to survive.
In 2005, the Species at Risk Coordination Office (SaRCO) enacted interim measures to maintain caribou numbers, and established a 14-member Science Team to identify what actions would be necessary to either maintain or recover the mountain caribou population throughout its existing range. On October 16, 2007, government announced the Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan (MCRIP) with the goal to restore the mountain caribou population to the pre-1995 level of 2,500 animals within 20 years in those planning units with greater than 10 animals. This planning process utilized the LRMP research to recommend full protection for the additional habitat area. See: ‘Good news for mountain caribou‘
Mountain caribou are also negatively impacted by motorized recreation, especially snowmobiling. The MCRIP also includes closures for snowmobiling; however the government has issued a permit to allow a local snowmobile club to continue riding in one key habitat area, Mt. Grace that is northeast of Seymour Arm. See ‘Caribou protection plan falls short.’
SEAS is a member of the Mountain Caribou Project, a coalition of environmental groups working to protect mountain caribou habitat in the southern interior of British Columbia (see www.mountaincaribou.org/ ).
The LRMP also provided explicit direction to determine how many hectares of old growth forests will be protected from logging for each biogeoclimatic zone of each of the 36 landscape units in the plan area (large watershed areas). Within the timber harvesting land base, the plan protects 61,877 hectares and in the non-timber zone (mostly higher elevations) there are 124,630 hectares protected.
The work to identify and map these OGMAs, which range in size from ten to thousands of hectares was done by small committees during the two years after the LRMP was completed. SEAS participated in this effort.
In the Shuswap, key OGMAs include old growth forests in the Larch Hills that are also part of Salmon Arm’s community watershed, portions of the Anglemont and Corning Creek watersheds, and a large area to the northeast of Malakwa.
After five years of implementation, the LRMP is doing a good job at helping maintain a balance between environmental protection and resource extraction. As well, the cooperation between government, industry, the environmental community and other sectors continues to produce solutions. See ‘Land Use Planning Table Continues: