The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) is reviewing a recent environmental report highlighting “a high amount of human-caused” disturbances to regional watersheds.
An August 2020 assessment by a registered biologist retained by the provincial forests ministry found that the Boundary and Rock Creek watersheds are “not functioning properly.” The Forest Range Evaluation Program (FREP) report, discussed among RDKB planners over the past two weeks, found that “human-caused” disturbances along the creeks have left them more susceptible to natural floods. The creeks are “significantly more” impaired than other watersheds in the Kootenay-Boundary, with both showing signs that they may recover more slowly from further regional development, according to the report.
“We want to see all of our watersheds functioning well, in perpetuity,” district spokesperson Frances Maika said on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
The FREP report suggests that a “high level” of timber harvesting near Boundary and Rock creeks has reduced their natural drainage capacity. Future development proposals involving sites near either creek “should be carefully reviewed by a hydrologist” than can accurately determine any environmental risks, the report states.
Maika said many of the FREP report’s finding were identified in the 2014 Kettle River Watershed Management plan, some of which are being addressed by the district. However, most of the watersheds studied in the report are on provincial Crown land, which Maika explained is not under the RDKB’s jurisdiction.
“The awesome thing is that there’s so much research going on in the Boundary right now relating to watersheds, which will be valuable to the district and the province,” Maika said.
The RDKB will decide if the report’s findings merit further action when district planners next meet with the Kettle River Watershed Advisory Council on April. 15, she said.