The environmental field program is focused on fisheries and aquatics, wildlife, soil, vegetation, wetlands, archaeology, hydrology and terrain. The studies are being conducted by scientists and trained field workers, collecting information to support the environmental assessment and the development of effective protection measures. The timing of each field program depends on seasonal factors, such as migration and nesting periods for wildlife, water levels and ground conditions (e.g., frozen vs. non-frozen).
Field crews will work with First Nations community members to facilitate the collection of traditional ecological knowledge as part of the environmental field studies.
Fisheries and Aquatics Studies
Fisheries biologists and field technicians collect information about fish and fish habitat such as fish species, their relative numbers and habitat types at watercourses along the Project study corridor. This information establishes baseline fisheries conditions and supports project plans, designs and layouts. It also helps determine the best crossing locations, construction techniques and timing. Surveys will be conducted at different times of the year to take into account seasonal differences.
Wildlife surveys are being undertaken to study wildlife populations, species at risk and wildlife habitat. Remote cameras located at select locations along the Project will study movement corridors for ungulates and other large mammals. During the spring and summer of 2013, surveys will be conducted by wildlife biologists along the Project corridor to collect information about wildlife habitat, species at risk, and to study nesting birds, waterfowl areas and amphibians.
Soil surveys will be conducted on agricultural lands to document baseline conditions and provide information to help develop soil handling measures for the environmental protection plan. Crews will collect information about soil characteristics such as salt content, particle size and organic matter, and will categorize soils according to the Canadian System of Soil Classification.
Vegetation and Wetlands
Vegetation and wetland specialists will conduct surveys to identify vegetation types and ecological communities along the Project study corridor during spring and summer 2013. Wetlands will be identified and studied along the Project study corridor. Surveys will also be undertaken to identify rare plant populations. Qualified forestry specialists will undertake a timber assessment to estimate the amount of total and merchantable timber.
To comply with the B.C. Heritage Conservation Act, an Archaeological Impact Assessment will be conducted to evaluate the potential for heritage resources (e.g., archaeological artifacts) along the Project study corridor and assess any potential effects from construction. This helps in designing, planning and implementing measures to avoid or mitigate potential effects on heritage resources.
Hydrologists will collect detailed information on the characteristics of water bodies along the Project study corridor such as channel geometry, flow rates, temperatures, turbidity and pH levels.
The Terrain Field Program will collect information on terrain types and terrain features along the Project study corridor, such as geological features and ecosystem types. Initial surveys will be conducted from the air, followed by detailed studies by ground crews.
The purpose of this program is to scale and assess timber volumes in the proposed pipeline corridor to support regulatory permit applications and to develop construction clearing and timber salvage plans.