2021 to 2023 Field Studies

Scientific field studies will be taking place at various times throughout the year along the proposed alternative corridors to understand the existing conditions of the environment including birds, wildlife, vegetation, fish, groundwater, surface water, and terrain/geotechnical. The information we collect through these studies will be strengthened by the Indigenous Knowledge that will be shared with us by Webequie and Marten Falls First Nations and the neighbouring Indigenous Communities.

The following provides a high-level overview of upcoming field study programs and their approximate timelines:

Bird Acoustic Recording Units (Spring, Summer, Fall 2022): Acoustic Recording Units (ARU) will be set-up in the study area. ARU’s will be deployed by crews while out for other programs and this program will continue throughout summer and fall 2022.

Aerial Waterfowl Migration Surveys (May 16-20 and Fall 2022): Transects, or straight lines, will be flown in spring and fall to observe waterfowl (such as ducks and mergansers) and shorebird stopover and staging locations, and to observe raptors nesting locations.

Breeding Bird Point Counts, Marsh Playback Surveys and Crepuscular Birds Acoustic Recording Units (early and late June 2022): Skilled observers will use three survey methods to identify birds, including marsh birds and breeding birds by sight and sound. Species at Risk birds are those that are listed as endangered or special concern. Species at Risk birds in the study area include Olive-Sided Flycatcher and Common Nighthawk.

Vegetation Program (June, July and August 2022):  Vegetation plots will be set up to collect samples and record to verify mapping of vegetation information for the area.

Surface Water and Fish and Fish Habitat Program (July and August 2022): Field crews will collect information on surface water (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams) quantity and quality, sediment quality (e.g., sand, silt, clay) and benthic invertebrates (organisms that live at the bottom of lakes, rivers and streams). Crews will also be conducting fish habitat assessment and sampling fish using methods such as angling, seine nets and minnow traps as well as eDNA sampling.  This work will be taking place at water crossings along both of the route alternatives being studied.

Geotechnical and Groundwater and Geochemistry Program (September 2022): Installation of monitoring wells to assess groundwater fluctuations, seasonal changes in water quality and develop an understanding of current conditions. Water, soil, and bedrock samples will also be collected to understand key rock and groundwater conditions. This program will continue into 2023.

Spring and Fall Waterfowl Aerial Survey: (May 10-13, October 16-19): Low-level aerial surveys over water bodies (lakes, ponds, stream and rivers to estimate the seasonal distribution, abundance and density of waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors.

Bats (detectors were deployed in May): Installation of ultrasonic audio recording devices to document bat species presence and distribution.

Breeding Birds (June 10-18, June 23 – July 2): Installation of audio recording devices and point count surveys to determine presence/absence of species as well as abundance/distribution and the status and trends in the bird populations.

Vegetation, Physiography and Peatlands (June 10-23, July 5-18, September 9-22): Collection of information related to forest and wetland plants, soil conditions and geologic features.

Fish and Fish Habitat (May 31 – June 6, August 9-19): Characterization of fish habitats to understand current conditions at locations along the route alternatives. In place of traditional fish community sampling, eDNA will used to determine the fish community.

Groundwater and Geochemistry (Spring 2022): Installation of groundwater monitoring wells to monitor groundwater levels, quality, and seasonal changes in groundwater levels and quality.

Surface Water (Spring/Summer 2022): Assessment of a subset of water crossings along the route alternatives to collect water and sediment quality data as well as monitor seasonal flows and drainage patterns.

Geotechnical Investigation (Spring 2022): Terrain ground truthing and geotechnical drilling and laboratory testing to assess subsurface conditions and aggregate potential.

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