Range Use Plan Guidebook


Table of Contents


Range Use Plans

Range use plans are required for all Range Act grazing and haycutting agreements. This section describes range use plan content, district manager and agreement holder responsibilities, the requirements for public consultation, and advertising plan content, and provides examples of the information regarding range use to include in range use plans. Appendix 1 has a range use plan template (an electronic version of the range use plan template is under development), a plan amendment form and a plan approval checklist. Appendix 2 is template of information provided by the district manager. Appendix 3 is a sample range use plan.

In principle, range use plans should be no more complicated than dictated by the circumstances.

Plan content for grazing agreements

District manager responsibilities

The district manager will consider higher-level plan objectives when formulating strategies relating to the management of rangeland.

The district manager will provide the following information to the agreement holder. This information is kept on file at the Ministry of Forests district office and is available to parties reviewing the plan:

1. A map of appropriate scale showing the following:
  1. Range Act agreement boundaries
  2. community watershed boundaries
  3. known wildlife habitat areas
  4. known ungulate winter range affected by livestock grazing or related activities
  5. resource features likely to be affected by livestock use (may include: snow courses; recreation features and facilities; wildlife habitat features; streams, wetlands, and lakes; research installation plots; domestic water intakes; cultural heritage resources)
  6. sensitive areas
  7. range developments
  8. key areas
2. Locations of key areas

These are relatively homogenous portions of a range agreement area selected because of their location, use, or grazing value as monitoring sites that reflect the overall acceptability of current grazing management over the area.

The following will be provided:

  1. range readiness criteria indicating when the range is ready for grazing or harvesting based on a combination of soil moisture conditions and the phenological stage of plants. Leaf development stage in indicator grass species is the most reliable criterion.
  2. average stubble heights and browse utilization levels. These are based on the height of the most palatable or preferred plant species remaining after harvesting either mechanically or by grazing animals and the percent usage of new woody shrub or hardwood tree growth
3. A description of any resource features (including streams, wetlands or lakes), sensitive areas and riparian areas that may be negatively affected by livestock use
  1. riparian areas and features that are non-functional or at risk
  2. wildlife habitat features
  3. other
4. Plant community descriptions in areas where livestock have, or may have, a significant effect including:
  1. Current plant communities (CPC)

The written descriptions should allow a person to visualize the plant community. The plant community should be described by layers (overstorey, understorey) and major plant species. Where possible, soil texture and terrain (aspect, slope and elevation) should be used to describe where certain communities occur in an area (e.g., in this range unit, dry south slopes are dominated by bluebunch wheatgrass/Rocky mountain fescue while moister north-facing slopes are dominated by porcupine grass and bluegrass, with minor amounts of blue-bunch wheatgrass). In most cases this can be done in a simple tabular form.

  1. Desired plant communities (DPC)

The desired plant community is one that produces the kind, proportion, and amount of vegetation necessary for meeting or exceeding the stated objectives for the site. The DPC must be consistent with the site’s capability to produce the vegetation through management, land treatment or a combination of the two. The DPC takes into account multiple values, such as economics, biodiversity, water quality, wildlife/fisheries, forage, and recreation.

As with the CPC description, the DPC should describe the plant community by layers and major plant species.

5. Strategies
  1. For ungulate winter ranges related to livestock grazing.

Ungulate winter ranges and objectives may be established by written order of the chief forester and the Deputy Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks or by a wildlife management plan or strategy approved before June 15, 1998.

Range use plans must give consideration to objectives for ungulate winter range. These objectives will be achieved through the application of an appropriate grazing schedule and correct stocking rate, correct utilization levels and residual cover and the use of range developments and livestock management.

  1. To achieve biological diversity.

Landscape-level biodiversity objectives are set through the landscape unit planning process. In the absence of higher-level plans, consider the following concepts:

  1. To protect resource features and/or sensitive areas.

Generally, features would be protected by controlling timing, levels and patterns of use and distribution. In some cases fences may be necessary.

  1. To achieve or maintain properly functioning condition (PFC) in riparian areas.

Strategies should identify the need to restore damaged stream and riparian sections to PFC within a prescribed time period, restore riparian plant communities and maintain stable soils and banks.

PFC is achieved through the application of appropriate grazing schedules, utilization levels for key indicator species, and stocking rates, and the use of range developments and livestock management measures.

  1. To achieve the desired plant communities.

Strategies should identify the need to restore plant communities to their DPC within a prescribed time period. The following strategies may be used to achieve the DPC:

  1. To achieve water quality objectives (if they exist).

Strategies should identify the need to: manage livestock use so that sedimen-tation and faecal contamination are reduced; prevent an accumulation of faecal material in the riparian area within one kilometre of the community water supply intake; limit foraging and loafing within the riparian area; and manage for a vigorous riparian plant community at a DPC within a prescribed time period.

  1. Relating to Wildlife Habitat Areas.

The Chief Forester and the Deputy Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks or designate may jointly classify a species at risk as identified wildlife if they agree that the species needs to be managed through a higher level plan, wildlife habitat area or general wildlife measure. They may also establish an area of land as a wildlife habitat area (WHA) and may establish management practices (general wildlife measures) if satisfied that these are necessary to maintain these species and their habitats. General wildlife measures may apply to WHAs or to specific ecosystem units.

  1. To minimize damage to trees that are not free growing.

Livestock grazing is used to remove competing grass and forb growth from plantations, but must not damage tree seedlings to a level so that the plantation fails to meet free growing conditions. Livestock management measures should complement measures taken by the forest licensee.

  1. Other strategies

The district manager may require additional strategies to manage and conserve the resource in the plan area.
Table 1 gives examples of how goals, objectives, strategies, and measures might be applied in a range use plan.

Table 1. How goals, objectives, strategies, and measures may be applied in a range use plan.

Goal

Objective

Strategy

Measure

• A viable wild ungulate population within the unit • Maintain the functional integrity of ungulate winter range

• Maintain adequate browse and low hiding cover

• Maintain an adequate fall standing crop of forage

• Use livestock to pre-condition forage on open grassland units

• Plan grazing so the open grasslands have a fall standing crop of rough fescue in excess of ___ cm.

• Graze ___ cow/calf pairs for ___weeks ( __ AUMs)

• Livestock use will occur prior to _______ in order to allow forage plants to regrow

• Distribute livestock use uniformly by active herding

• A healthy, natural ecosystem • Maintain a natural level of biological diversity

• Maintain a perennial bunchgrass community in open range areas

• Maintain natural stand structure, and prevent unnatural cover breaks

• Manage timing, level and distribution of livestock use

• Through a combination of grazing, chemical and biological control methods, limit the spread of noxious weeds

• Follow stated range readiness criteria when determining when spring livestock grazing is to occur on grasslands

• Livestock grazing will not occur after _______

• Allow understorey plants to regrow prior to fall

• Follow the grazing schedule and use level

• Disturbed areas will be revegetated within ___ years

• A healthy, natural ecosystem • Maintain and protect resource features/ sensitive areas • Restore any damaged resource features within ___ years through livestock management and range developments • Follow the grazing schedule and use level

• Range developments

• A healthy functioning watershed with intact riparian plant communities • Maintain or achieve properly functioning condition in riparian areas • Manage livestock use and plan range developments:

• so that damaged stream and riparian sections are restored to properly functioning conditions (PFC) within ___ years

• to restore a dense corridor of willow through natural recruitment along ______ Creek within ___ years

• to maintain stable soils and streambanks

• to prevent an accumulation of faecal material within the riparian area

• Reduce livestock watering from creek

• Livestock use will occur when soils are dried to point where they are not susceptible trampling and compaction

• Livestock use will occur prior to _____ in order to prevent browsing of willow shoots

• Remove livestock from the riparian portion of the unit when the average stubble height in the key area reaches ____ cm

• Distribute livestock by daily herding and by placement of salt blocks. Salt blocks will be placed no closer than ____ m from the riparian area

• Develop ___ off-stream water sites at ______________

• A healthy natural ecosystem • desired plant communities (DPCs) of conifer forest with an understorey of ____, and ___open grasslands of rough fescue • Manage livestock use to:

• maintain a vigorous understorey of __________

• maintain a vigorous native perennial plant community in _____

• maintain the current plant community through appropriate timing and degree of use.

• achieve DPC within ___ years

• Graze from ___ to ___

• Manage to achieve a ___% level of use of current year’s growth on average

• Manage for an average stubble height of ___ cm in key areas

• Will not exceed __ % use of current year’s browse in ___ key areas

• Clean drinking water • Meet or exceed the Canadian Drinking Water Standards within ___ years • Manage livestock use:

• so that sedimentation and faecal contamination are reduced

• to prevent an accumulation of faecal material within the riparian zone within 1 km of the community water supply intake

• to limit foraging and loaf-ing within the riparian area

• to achieve a vigorous riparian plant community at a DPC of _____

• to maintain or achieve PFC within __ years

• Follow a grazing schedule (season and duration of use)

• Follow stated readiness criteria (soils and plant phenology)

• Follow an appropriated level of use (livestock class, numbers and AUMs)

• Follow stated use levels (stubble height)

• Distribute livestock use through management (salting, herding, developments)

• A viable forest industry • Achieve free growing conditions on newly planted cutblocks • Manage livestock use so that they will not damage tree seedlings to the extent that the plantation fails to meet free to grow conditions

• Manage livestock to limit trampling and browsing of conifer seedlings

• Will not salt within ___ m of plantations

• Remove livestock from the unit when a stubble height of ___ is reached or prior to _____

• Prevention of wildlife extirpation • Protect known habitats and populations of ________ • Defer spring grazing by livestock in identified waterfowl nesting areas

• Manage livestock to maintain the current plant community of _______ and a spring grass cover of ____ cm on average.

• Prevent disturbance around the rattlesnake hibernaculum

• Graze livestock in this unit from _____ to ____

• Manage for a stubble height of ____ in key area _____

• Build a fence to prevent livestock access in the immediate vicinity of the hibernaculum

Agreement holder responsibilities

The agreement holder must consider both the district manager–supplied strategies and any higher-level plan objectives when determining the grazing schedule and any measures or actions they will take to manage livestock on the rangeland. They may also comment on how other resource uses affect their ability to manage the range and may identify other issues.

The agreement holder will submit a range use plan [ Unless specifically relieved of the requirement to submit a plan by the district manager under section 27(2) of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. In this case, the district manager must prepare a range use plan.] consisting of the following:

1. A map of the area, provided by the Ministry of Forests
2. Measures to address strategies provided by the district manager including those relating to
  1. ungulate winter range
  2. achieving biological diversity
  3. protecting resource features and/or sensitive areas
  4. achieving or maintaining properly functioning condition (PFC) in riparian areas
  5. achieving desired plant communities (DPCs) in areas that have been, or may be, significantly affected by livestock use
  6. addressing known water quality objectives
  7. minimizing damage to trees that are not free growing
  8. wildlife habitat areas (WHAs)
  9. other
3. A grazing schedule indicating livestock class and numbers, AUMs and periods of use by area. (Where private land is grazed in common, a grazing schedule must be supplied for the private land.)
4. The location of key areas along with readiness criteria, average stubble heights and browse use levels
5. An expiry date
6. Signature of the agreement holder (unless relieved of the obligation to prepare the plan)

Plan content for hay cutting agreements

District manager responsibilities

The district manager will consider higher-level plan objectives when formulating strategies relating to the management of rangeland.

The district manager will provide the following information to the agreement holder. This information is kept on file at the Ministry of Forests district office and is available to parties reviewing the plan:

1. A map of appropriate scale showing the following:
  1. Range Act agreement boundaries
  2. community watershed boundaries
  3. known wildlife habitat areas
  4. known ungulate winter range likely to be affected by hay cutting
  5. resource features likely to be affected by hay cutting or related activities
  6. sensitive areas
  7. range developments
  8. intended harvest area
2. A description of desired plant communities for the areas to be harvested
3. Strategies to achieve desired plant communities for the areas to be harvested
4. Range readiness criteria or other factors to determine the time of harvest

Agreement holder responsibilities

The agreement holder must consider both the district manager–supplied strategies and any higher-level plan objectives when preparing the range use plan.

The agreement holder will submit a range use plan [ Unless specifically relieved of the requirement to submit a plan by the district manager under section 27(2) of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act . In this case the district manager must prepare the range use plan.] consisting of the following:

1. A map of the area (provided by the Ministry of Forests)
2. A description of the desired plant communities and the measures to achieve them
3. An average stubble height for the area to be harvested
4. A date for the intended start of harvesting
5. Readiness criteria or other factors determining time of harvest (provided by the district manager)
6. An expiry date
7. Signature of the agreement holder (unless relieved of the obligation to prepare the plan)

Public Participation and Advertising

Range use plans are subject to public consultation as outlined in the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act and associated regulations and standards. For complete details, refer to the Public Consultation Guidebook. The following provides additional information on the advertising of operational plans.

The person preparing the range use plan is responsible for the advertising and public viewing requirements. If, under the Act, the district manager exempts the range agreement holder from having to prepare the range use plan, the district manager then assumes the responsibilities for advertising and public viewing.

Advertising

Range use plans must be advertised to notify the public of opportunities for input. Requirements for public notice are established through regulations and standards.

Scope of advertising

Advertisements notifying the public of the opportunity to view range use plans should be placed in at least one newspaper circulating nearest to the area of the proposed plan.

Notification by radio is encouraged for remote areas where people such as trappers and guide/outfitters do not have access to local newspapers, government agents or forest district offices.

Time-frame for advertising

Proposed plans should be advertised at least one week prior to the first date on which they will be available for public viewing. Advertising should be carried out in such a way that it will reach as many of the affected parties as possible.

In accordance with the regulation, the public and affected parties should be given a minimum of 60 days to comment on proposed plans. However, the district manager may reduce the time period to 30 days where it is determined that the shorter period will provide an adequate opportunity for review and comment.

Advertising format

Range use plans could be advertised in the following format (minimum 3" x 5")

Proposed Range Use Plans

Notice is hereby given that _______________________________ will make available for public viewing the following proposed range use plans ______________________

These plans contain the location of the grazing areas, proposed levels of use, grazing schedules that detail livestock numbers, nature and duration of use, and measures required to meet objectives and strategies for integrated resource management. They are available for review by resource agencies and the public before approval is considered by the Ministry of Forests.

These proposed range use plans will be made available for public viewing until _______________ at _______________________ during the following hours _________________________

Your written comments must be made to ____________________ at _______________________ by the above-noted date to ensure consideration.

In addition to the information above, the newspaper advertisement should include the following:

Open houses

The district manager may hold an open house at the beginning of the review period where it is determined that there will be sufficient public interest in the proposed plan(s), where the ministry prepared the plan(s) on behalf of the range agreement holder, or when several plans have been advertised at the same time.

Plans are to be displayed in a manner understandable to the public. Clear interpretations of all technical information should be available. As a minimum the following information should be provided:

District manager–supplied strategies should accompany the plan.

Relevant information from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, such as habitat capability mapping for the plan area, should be available for public review.

A map of appropriate scale should be displayed, showing the location of range agreements, animal unit months, and agreement holder names for range use plans under review at that time.

Attendance record

Attendance should be recorded at each open house. Members of the public interested in being kept informed of proposed activities on an ongoing basis should be added to the mailing list at this time.

Public input

Public viewings are to aid the exchange of information between plan developers and people interested in, or affected by, range operations. To ensure that public input can be considered in plan development, comments must be submitted to the plan developer in writing

Referrals

The district manager may require referral of a range use plan or plan amendment to an agency or affected party. The normal referral period is 60 days; however, the district manager may reduce the period to 30 days where the shorter time period provides an adequate opportunity for review and comment.

The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks is a referral agency for all range use plans.

Response to comments

Comments received and a summary of any revisions made as a result of these comments must be submitted, with the proposed plan or amendment, to the district manager.

Approval of Range Use Plans

Before giving approval, the district manager will ensure that the range use plan submitted by the agreement holder adequately manages and conserves the range resource and addresses referral and review comments appropriately.

An Approval Form and a sample Approval Checklist are found in Appendix 1.

Amendments to Range Use Plans

Amendments to range use plans may be initiated by the agreement holder or may be required by the district manager (e.g., if a plan is unlikely to succeed, or because of special circumstances, or where the plan is inconsistent with new objectives, strategies or measures). Advertising and referral is normally required unless the amendment is minor in nature (i.e., it does not constitute a substantial change in management, it meets Code requirements, it will adequately manage and conserve the forest and range resource, and it will not affect the public in a material way). Refer to Appendix 1 for a sample amendment form.

 

Previous Page Page Top Next Page