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Assessment of the condition of small fish-bearing streams in the central interior plateau of British Columbia in response to riparian practices implemented under the Forest Practices Code

Author(s) or contact(s): S.C. Chatwin, P. Tschaplinski, G. McKinnon, N. Winfield, H. Goldberg, and R. Scherer
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Fish and Fish Habitat
Series: Working Paper
Other details:  Published 2001. Hardcopy is available.


The condition of small fish bearing streams (Forest Practices Code class S4) in the central interior of British Columbia was assessed to determine the effects of riparian forest harvest practices implemented under the B.C. Forest Practices Code. The purpose of the survey was to determine:
- How frequently are the different types of streamside harvesting practices implemented?
- Do the different types of streamside harvesting practices meet the objectives of the Riparian Management Area Guidebook? and
- Do the different types of streamside harvesting practices result in apparent impacts to fish habitat?

The survey investigated the extent of forest harvesting potentially affecting small fish-bearing streams, the prevalent riparian silviculture treatments and levels of tree retention, the evidence for stream channel disturbance after forest harvesting, the degree of shade loss over the stream, and the extent of windthrow and windthrow-related impacts to the stream.

The review of 2989 cutblocks harvested between 1997 and 1998 in six forest districts in the central interior plateau of British Columbia revealed that only 2.4% of these cutblocks contained a designated S4 fish stream or were immediately adjacent to one. A wide range of riparian silviculture treatments was implemented: 68% of these S4 streams had some type of unharvested riparian reserve, 10% were given partial-retention treatments, and 22% of riparian management areas were clearcut. The different riparian treatments are generally meeting the objectives of the Forest Practices Code Riparian Management Area Guidebook. Eight percent of the streams had a moderate level of stream channel disturbance due to harvesting or post-harvest windthrow. Additional potential impacts included high levels of shade loss (7% of the streams) and loss of streambank trees (3% of the streams). Windthrow was common in all treatment types, but rarely resulted in stream channel disturbance. Across the six districts, the overall impact to designated S4 fish stream channels and their fish habitats from harvest activities in 19971998 is considered low.

Working Paper 61 (1827 KB)

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Updated July 24, 2015