Karst in Alberni

What is Karst?  Karst could be defined as terrain with special land forms and unusual drainage characteristics, which develop as a result of the dissolution of soluble rocks, notably carbonate rocks such as limestone, dolomite or marble.Karst Resources refer to all components of the karst system. These include all solutional features, epikarst, insurgences and resurgences, both physical and biological components, etc. (Baichtal/Blackwell)

Caver hopes to protect his discovery
A Port Alberni caver hopes to protect an area around Sproat Lake that is filled with spectacular caves and ancient species.

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One Response to Karst in Alberni

  1. Reid Robinson says:

    October 22, 2007

    Chief Forester, BC Ministry of Forests and Range
    P.O. Box 9525
    Stn Prov Govt
    Victoria, BC
    V8W 9C3

    Re: Karst, an exceptional environment and challenge for land managers

    Dear Mr. Jim Snetsinger,

    It was interesting to hear you reflect on past and future challenges in forest management while emphasizing the importance of ecosystem-based management. You may recall during question period in Port Alberni’s Glenwood Centre I asked; “Will the Chief Forester consider karst terrain when determining the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) for Timber Sale Areas (TSA)”?

    You replied, there are mechanisms in place to manage karst, and if I wanted karst to be considered, you advised, that I write a letter identifying the location and size of the karst area.

    Your advice was disturbing for it implied a substantial effort must be made by the general public to discover, explore, inventory and identify vulnerable karst terrains and associated resources before the Chief Forester will recognize the non-renewable nature of many karst resource features, particularly within cave and karst systems.

    One of the tools in place that could and should be used to assist in the Chief Forester’s AAC determination was produced during the testing of the Karst Inventory Standards and Procedures for BC (KISP) (March 1999). The document entitled; Reconnaissance Karst Potential Mapping and Inventory for BC; was produced July 07, 1999 by Terra Firma Geoscience Services (Tim Stokes) and Cave Management Services (Paul Griffiths).

    This mapping exercise (Ministry of Forests (MOF) File# 16400-20/Karst) classified previously known carbonate units for their potential for karst development. The MOF karst maps show some 400 individual calcareous deposits outcrop on Vancouver Island. All deposits were assigned numbers, and most are rated as having a high potential for karst. In addition, these same maps show that many of the deposits have also been identified with the occurrence of known major karst development and/or caves.

    About half of the identified carbonate units on Vancouver Island are located within the boundaries of the South Island Forest District (SIFD), around 20% are located on privately forested and non-forested lands and perhaps another 5% are located in Parks and other various types of protected areas.

    As you know, the BC Ministry of Forests and Range has primary responsibility for the management of karst resources in (and on) Crown land outside of protected areas. However, during the last decade members of the Central Island Caving Club have discovered karstified calcareous deposits and caves that have not been officially identified or classified (i.e., for their potential for karst, significance of cave, hydrological, biological, palaeontological or cultural value).

    VANISL carbonate unit 77, 102, 103, 110, and 111 for example, lie mainly within the Sproat Lake Community Watershed and are of particular concern for residents and the broader caving community. Significant resource values have recently been discovered in these karstified units such as, the longest cave in the SIFD, rare fossils and bones, large community of a new species of sub-terrestrial fauna and blue-listed Townsend big eared bats. Collectively, the above units host some 30 caves and more than 100 significant surface karst features. This information has previously been sent (2005) to the SIFD and Ministry of Environment (MOE) requesting recognition and resource protection. However, we have not heard back from the MOE, nor has the SIFD issued a meaningful and enforceable Government Actions Regulation (GAR) Karst Order.

    We are informed that professional reliance is the corner stone of the Forest and Range Practices Act with no public recourse to government. As a registered professional and Chief Forester for the province, we respectfully request that ecosystems-based management of exposed calcareous deposits be considered and reflected in future AAC rational, particularly for TSA’s in the Coast Forest Region.

    Respectfully Yours,

    Reid Robinson

    Central Island Caving Club
    Karst and Cave Assessment Committee, Chair
    5833 Stuart Rd.
    Port Alberni BC
    V9Y 8Y6

    Phone/Fax 250-724-3747
    Email: note4reid@shaw.ca

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