Notice of permit

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Regional or Local Number: JNP 9700

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. JNP 9700 is issued.

Purpose:
Activity affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity

Description:
ATCO Electric will construct and operate the ATCO Electric Jasper Interconnection Project, which will connect Jasper National Park with the Alberta Interconnected Electric System via a 44.7 km aboveground transmission line and a new substation. The vegetation clearing associated with the project is primarily located along the Right?of?Way and in the Montane ecoregion of Jasper National Park, and occurs within Type 2 Matrix critical habitat for the Jasper/Banff local population unit of caribou. ATCO Electric anticipates that 27,000 trees will be removed (a total clearing of 62.5?74.2 ha) and that up to 46 ha of the total area of Type 2 Matrix critical habitat for the species will not be reforested. Effects of the project will result in a net increase in forage for non?caribou ungulates and may result in increased abundance of deer and elk in the area, providing more food for wolves. The magnitude of impact on wolves in unknown, but it is well established that conversion of vegetation from forest to grass and forb cover can increase density and/or abundance of ungulates and that cascades to increases to density of wolves. This type of landscape change, albeit on a much larger scale, is identified as the main threat to caribou populations across Canada.

Start Date: 2018-09-12   End Date: 2019-05-31

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Alberta

Affected Species:

Pre-Conditions:
Alternatives: ATCO Electric considered alternatives to the project as required under Park Canada’s Terms of Reference for the Detailed Impact Analysis for the project, which include the options of constructing a power line into Jasper and decommission the Palisades Plant, connecting Jasper to the Alberta electrical network; rebuilding the Palisades Plant to maintain isolated generation; constructing a power line into Jasper, connecting Jasper to the Alberta electrical network, and maintain a minimum level of back?up generation at the Palisades Plant. Another alternative to the proposed project design was to install the transmission line underground as opposed to using overhead structures. As part of the routing evaluation, ATCO Electric determined that burying the transmission line would have a greater environmental impact when compared to that of the overhead option. This is in large part due to the ground conditions found in the project area. Installing the transmission line underground would require blasting in rocky areas and disturbing a greater area of sensitive soils that present potential reclamation issues. In addition, installing the proposed transmission line underground would have a greater impact on important habitat features such as riparian areas, wetlands and watercourses that otherwise could be largely avoided or spanned by the overhead transmission line option. The immediate impact of this activity and the subsequent reclamation requirements related to the ground disturbance carries greater environmental impact and risk than overhead lines and pole installation. ATCO Electric determined that burying sections of transmission line in Jasper National Park was not a suitable option. Mitigations: All new work areas to be cleared will be restricted to essential expansion areas and essential temporary workspace required for maintenance activities. All sites disturbed for maintenance activities and not supporting permanent structures, roads, or gravel caps will be rehabilitated to an approved cover of vegetation (for example, encouraging growth of non-palatable shrubs). Given the impact of the project on Type 2 Matrix critical habitat, and in addition to other mitigation measures, ATCO Electric will provide a reasonable and commensurate compensation for vegetation disturbances, in the form of a financial contribution to support applied research projects, conservation actions and/or restoration actions for caribou within the park. Jeopardy to Survival or Recovery of the Species: In order to achieve the population and distribution objectives in the recovery strategy for the species, Jasper’s site?based objectives for caribou are that the Jasper/Banff Local Population Unit achieve stable to increasing numbers to a minimum of 100 animals as a step towards achieving self?sustaining local herds in which natural processes (dispersal, migration) can occur. The function of Type 2 Matrix range is to provide security through low predation risk, defined in the recovery strategy as wolf population densities less than 3 wolves / 1000 km². Over the last 5 years, the median wolf density across all critical habitat types in Jasper is approximately 1.9 wolves / 1000 km2, well below the threshold identified in the recovery strategy. However, this project is likely to cause changes to ungulate abundance within Type 2 Matrix range, which have potential to cascade to increases in wolf density. With commitment to mitigations and actions identified in the Detailed Impact Analysis and authorization for the project, Parks Canada expects that potential increases to wolf density can be minimized. As the project is defined and planned, significant changes to wolf density are not expected. However, due to uncertainty, wolf abundances will continue to be monitored to ensure Type 2 matrix range continues functioning in a way that provides conditions conducive to caribou survival and recovery.

Contact Person(s)
Parks Canada
Species Conservation and Management
Natural Resource Conservation
Parks Canada
30 Victoria Street 3rd floor
Gatineau, QC
J8X 0B3
Tel: 888-773-8888
Fax: 819-420-9273
pca_sar.registrycomments@pc.gc.ca

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