Based on the Hatch team’s familiarity with existing documentation, knowledge of the project area
and experience with similar projects, a series of data collection programs are proposed to fill
information gaps identified during the preliminary assessment of potential effects and through
discussion with agency personnel. It is understood that baseline data collection requirements will be
finalized after review of existing information, reviewed/confirmed by the agencies prior to
implementation of the program, and may be adjusted as necessary. The following programs are
currently being considered:
The following provides a brief description of each anticipated program.
Surface Water Quality
A baseline water quality monitoring program is proposed to supplement existing water quality information for the Pic River. The program will involve sampling water quality three times during the year (spring, summer and fall, typically during 25th, 50th and 75th percentile flow events) at a number of locations including
Parameters to be analyzed at each location include
Dissolved oxygen and water temperature profiling would also be conducted at each of the sampling
sites (as depth conditions allow) during the sample collections. Results would be documented in one
data report at the end of the sampling program.
The following sections identify the baseline fisheries field investigation programs that are being proposed. The programs are based on those outlined in the POD.
Spring 2010 Studies
The MNR SDP notes that walleye spawning sites have been noted at Manitou Falls. Walleye spawning may also be occurring at Middle Falls and High Falls. Spring spawning surveys will be conducted in 2010 to assess utilization of potential spawning habitat at these areas. Methodologies proposed will include short set gill netting (with a variety of mesh sizes including large mesh targeting lake sturgeon), trap netting and angling. The goal will be to capture fish during the spawning period and determine presence/absence and their gonad status (as input to potential spawning locations). Potential spawning habitats will be assessed to determine suitability for spawning based on known preferences for particular habitat features. Assessment methodologies may include water depth and flow velocity measurements and underwater camera use to document substrate. Egg mats will be used to confirm the presence of spawning in suitable habitats. Other fish species captured during the assessment will be noted to document spring habitat utilization for those species.
The SDP notes that rainbow trout have been documented in the Pic River and that rainbow trout
spawning has been noted at Middle Falls and potential spawning habitat exists at Manitou Falls.
Rainbow trout spawning surveys will be conducted in the study area to ascertain if and where
spawning occurs. Surveys during spawning would involve the enumeration of spawning fish in
suitable habitats. All walleye, lake sturgeon, rainbow trout collected during the spring spawning
survey will be floy tagged with an individually numbered tag and live released. Aging structures
(scales and a secondary aging structure) will be collected from these fish.
Summer 2010 Studies
A fish habitat and fish community study is proposed during summer 2010. Aquatic habitat surveys will be conducted on both a macro scale to broadly identify and delineate the range of habitat conditions throughout the study area (i.e., downstream from Manitou Falls to upstream from the High Falls head pond), and on a site-specific scale to document micro-habitat features that may represent significant or critical habitat features (e.g., spawning and nursery habitats, critical foraging habitats). Macro-scale surveys will be conducted using the standard shoreline cruise methodology, while detailed mapping and habitat analysis/assessment will occur at potentially critical habitat areas (e.g., spawning beds, rapids/riffles, impassable waterfalls, small coldwater tributaries). Fish habitat features will be mapped on Ontario Base Maps and representative photographs will be taken to document existing fish habitat features.
A fish species inventory is proposed for the study area to document species presence/absence and
site specific relative abundance. The primary fish community assessment methodology will be a
Riverine Index Netting (RIN) Study, conducted in accordance with the updated Riverine Index
Netting Manual of Instructions (Jones and Yunker, 2009). The RIN study will consist of the
deployment of specially designed RIN gillnets (including small, large and extra large mesh size nets
as documented in the manual) throughout the study area during one sampling period in August. The
intent of the survey will be to assess the small and large bodied fish population of the study area.
The RIN will extend from upstream of the proposed High Falls head pond to approximately 5 km
downstream from the Manitou Falls site to incorporate the entire study area. We are proposing to set
50 nets, in accordance with the number of nets suggested in the RIN manual (subject to approval
In addition to the RIN net, large bodied fish, including walleye, northern pike, lake sturgeon, and
possibly rainbow trout, will be captured using angling and trap net methodologies. The intent will
be to catch as many adult fish as possible in an effort to collect fish that were tagged during the
spring studies to determine any movements that may have occurred throughout the river system.
This information could form the basis for further discussions regarding fish passage requirements at
Fall 2010 Studies
In conjunction with the fall water quality sampling program, we are proposing to collect baitfish for tissue mercury analysis in order to meet the usual MOE requirements for such baseline data. We propose to collect 5 replicates of 10 baitfish (e.g., shiners) at a total of 5 sites throughout the study area. Fish will be collected by seining, minnow trapping and small mesh gill netting. The fish will be analyzed for total mercury content.
During this same sampling trip, we also propose to undertake a preliminary fall spawning survey in
the study area to assess the presence/absence of spawning brook trout and/or other fall spawning
salmonids in the project area. We would undertake a visual assessment of potential spawning areas
(gravel beds) to determine if redds and/or spawning fish are present.
The results of the seasonal fisheries investigations would be documented in one data report in late
Terrestrial components under investigation during baseline data collection include
Following completion of the background information review, habitat types in the study area will be mapped through interpretation of aerial photography/satellite imagery, where available. Within the head pond (as applicable) and along portions of new access road and site structures, vegetation communities will be classified according to the standardized Forest Ecosystem Classification for Northwestern Ontario (Sims et al, undated). A shoreline cruise will be used to assess riparian communities to the upstream extent of the head pond, and several vegetation plots will be surveyed to assess the potential presence of any vulnerable species. Based on known range maps of vegetation species listed on either the federal Species at Risk Act, or the provincial Endangered Species Act, no vegetation Species at Risk are expected within the study area. Where possible, the knowledge of vegetation in the study area will be expanded during other tasks or discipline fieldwork (e.g. breeding bird surveys).
Existing information relating to bird communities (such as Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas results) will be supplemented with a breeding bird survey, consisting of a combination of point counts and area searches, which will be performed along the access roads, around the proposed project locations and along the length of the proposed head ponds. The breeding bird survey will be conducted in June 2010. The result of this survey will provide detailed information on bird communities within the study area and will allow a determination of the possibility of occurrence of Species at Risk, or Partners In Flight Priority Species.
Any sitings of bald eagles within the project area by field crews will be documented. Bald eagles are
currently listed as Special Concern on the provincial Endangered Species Act.
Mammal species potentially found in the study area will be documented using
In addition, during vegetation community mapping, the potential occurrence of specific wildlife
habitat features, such as moose aquatic feeding areas, will be considered.
The project area is located within the zone of discontinuous distribution for woodland caribou, a
threatened species on both the federal Species at Risk Act and the provincial Endangered Species
Act. Though caribou are not expected to be present, suitable habitat for caribou use will be mapped
during vegetation community mapping. In addition, any observation of caribou within the study area
will be noted.
Reptile and amphibian species potentially found in the study area will be updated/documented using
Based on known range maps of reptile and amphibian species listed on either the federal Species at
Risk Act, or the provincial Endangered Species Act, none are expected within the study area.
Terrestrial investigations would be undertaken in early summer (June) when breeding birds are
present within the project area. The results of the terrestrial investigations would be documented in
a separate data report.
Potential heritage and cultural resource considerations will be addressed by our licensed archaeologist subconsultant, Boreal Heritage Consulting, who will conduct a Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment of the study area. The Stage 1 Assessment will involve a background search of historical documents and the Ministry of Culture’s (MoC) database to identify any registered or unregistered heritage sites within the study area. Based on the findings presented in the Stage 1 report, areas with significant archaeological potential may require field investigation (i.e., Stage 2 study) prior to construction.
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