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An investigation by British Columbia’s independent forestry watchdog has found that sediment from roads posed a high risk to fish habitat in three of five watersheds it assessed.

The chair of the Forest Practices Board, Kevin Kriese, says in a release that some industry practices were quite good, such as maintaining fish passage during road work, but more must be done to prevent sediment from winding up in streams.

He says sediment management should be considered from the time a road is designed through to its construction to its deactivation.

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The board’s investigation found risk was highest in the Ainslie watershed near Boston Bar, the Owen watershed near Houston and the Pennask watershed between Merritt and Kelowna.

Its report says most of the contributing factors could have been avoided by following well-established best practices for erosion and sediment control.

It found moderate risk in the Woodjam watershed near Williams Lake and low risk in the Memekay watershed near Campbell River.

The watchdog is recommending the province amend the Forest and Range Practices Act to ensure clear and enforceable requirements for minimizing the sediment entering streams during road work.

“Resource professionals, along with road construction and maintenance operators, need guidance and on-going training on effective methods of erosion and sediment control,” the report reads.

“In the past couple of years, government has held several training sessions. This is an encouraging start but much more needs to be done to ensure the culture of sediment management is entrenched across the forest industry.”

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