Decision Date: October 5, 2007
Panel: Paul Love
Keywords: Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – s. 96(1); unauthorized timber harvesting; timber salvage
Mr. Bowes, an experienced log salvor in the North Island-Central Coast Forest District, was found, on two separate occasions, in possession of bags of wood that appeared freshly cut and showed signs of manufacturing, with the butts and limbs bucked off. 228 bucked or trimmed logs with a scaled volume of 404 m3 were seized. Further investigation by a Forest Officer revealed that Mr. Bowes did not have an Scaling Exemption Prior to Manufacture for Marine Salvage Timber (also known as a “root buck permit”), and was, therefore, not authorized to manufacture timber prior to scaling. Moreover, the Forest Officer was able to match three of the logs seized with an illegal harvest site.
The District Manager determined that Mr. Bowes had contravened section 96(1) of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (the “Code”), which prohibits the cutting, damaging or destroying of Crown timber without authorization. A penalty of $4,000 was imposed.
Mr. Bowes appealed the determination to the Commission, alleging that Ministry staff had conspired against him and fabricated evidence, that he had not harvested any timber above the high water mark and that he had not stolen the logs from another operator. He requested compensation for the timber that was seized and a written apology from the District Manager.
The Commission first considered whether Mr. Bowes had contravened section 96(1) of the Code, and found that he had. Mr. Bowes had admitted during the appeal hearing that he had operated without a root buck permit and manufactured the timber prior to having it scaled. He had also failed to produce any documentation, such as photographs or log books, to verify the sites from which the logs were obtained. Therefore, although there was no direct evidence that he had harvested trees on Crown land, the circumstantial evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Commission to conclude that the timber had indeed been cut from Crown land without statutory authority to do so.
Regarding the penalty, the Commission agreed with the District Manager that Mr. Bowes and others must be deterred from illegal harvesting activities. In light of Mr. Bowes’ uncooperative attitude during the investigation and the flagrant and continuing nature of the violation, the Commission found the penalty imposed by the District Manager to be appropriate.
Therefore, the Commission confirmed the contravention and the penalty. The appeal was dismissed.