A torrent of water and mud flowed down Cooke Creek

Ministry of Forests challenges Cooke Creek slide claims

The Forest Practices Board has questioned the Ministry of Forests’ road maintenance and culvert design

The Ministry of Forests is defending itself against claims that it played a role in a 2014 washout near Enderby.

The Forest Practices Board has questioned the Ministry of Forests’ road  maintenance and culvert design, as well as the response to public concerns, at Cooke Creek.

“While B.C. Timber Sales did conduct regular inspections of the road, these were not as well-documented as required,” states the ministry.

“As requested by the board, the (the Okanagan-Shuswap) district office and B.C. Timber Sales will be developing an action plan within the month so the public can be reassured that the necessary road inspections are occurring.”

However, the ministry insists the Cooke Creek debris flow is site-specific and believed to be caused by human tampering of the beaver-proof culvert.

“The board could not and did not find that ministry/B.C. Timber Sales activities were the cause of the wash-out and debris flow,” states the ministry.

“This is consistent with the initial compliance and enforcement investigation, which pointed to the cause likely being human tampering with the culvert/s and that matter has been referred to the RCMP for investigation.”

However, the FPC says the ministry’s Okanagan district and B.C. Timber Sales did not  comply with legislation or risk management policies,  procedures and systems.

A public complaint was filed with the FPB after two culverts at the mouth of Dale Lake failed and sections of the road were washed out in a debris flood in May 2014. The complainant said that he raised concerns with district staff about the condition of the culverts, but they were not heeded.

“The investigation found that the district cleaned out a culvert in response to one concern, but did not respond to the complainant’s concerns on two other occasions,” said Tim Ryan, Forest Practices Board chairperson.

“This lack of response was not adequate.”

Ryan says BCTS did not inspect or maintain the road between 2006 and 2014, although Ministry of Forests’ policy required annual inspections during that period.

He added that in 2007, the district installed a culvert that was too small to withstand a 100-year flood, which is a requirement of the Forest Practices Act.