3. Project Site Information
3.1 Project Location
Figure 1.1 shows the project location. Table 3.1 below provides the geographic coordinates of the
Table 3.1 Geographic Coordinates of Sites
|Site Name||MNR Site No.
||Drainage Area (km2)
|Latitude(d, m, s)
||Longitude (d, m, s)
Both sites are located within Davies Township.
Figure 3.1 depicts the existing natural environmental features of the study area and Figure 3.2 depicts
the existing socioeconomic features of the study area. These features are described in more detail in
the following sections.
3.2 Natural Environmental Features
3.2.1 Physical Environment
126.96.36.199 Geology and Soils
The project study area is situated within the Precambrian Shield with granitic bedrock of the Superior
Province, which is exposed at several points the area including Manitou Falls and High Falls. The
overlying soils consist of extensive glaciolacustrine plains, comprised of varved clay, silt and fine
sand into which the Pic River has cut its channel (Farrand 1960, Zoltai 1967, Milne 1968, Coates
1970; all cited in Chant 2007). Soils along the banks of the Pic River in the study area are
predominantly clay (as noted in the MNR SDP) with sand and silt (DST Consulting Engineers Inc.,
2007) and there are sand bar deposits downstream from High Falls and Manitou Falls. Riverbanks
upstream from High Falls are comprised predominantly of sandy glaciofluvial outwash (DST
Consulting Engineers Inc., 2007). The MNR SDP indicates that two large land slumps have occurred
in the area in the past 15 years, serving as evidence of the unstable nature of the area’s riverbanks.
188.8.131.52 Surface Water Resources
The Pic River arises east of the Town of Longlac and runs for approximately 130 km (straight line
distance) before discharging into Lake Superior, 15 km southeast of Marathon, Ontario. Manitou
Falls is located approximately 70 km upstream from the mouth on Lake Superior. Middle Falls is
located approximately 11 km upstream from Manitou Falls, and High Falls is located a further 4 km
upstream. Major tributaries of the Pic River include the White Otter River (which discharges into the
Pic River at Middle Falls), the Kagiano River (which discharges approximately 13 km downstream
from Manitou Falls), and the Black River, which discharges approximately 2 km upstream from the
Pic River mouth at Lake Superior.
The drainage areas at High Falls and Manitou Falls are 1087 m2 and 2356 m2 , respectively (Chant,
2007). At the High Falls location, the Pic River has an annual average flow of 13.11 m3/s, while at
the Manitou Falls location, the average annual flow is 28.42 m3/s (Chant, 2007). Monthly average
flows (from Chant, 2007) at each site are summarized below in Table 3.2. High- and low-flow return period flows from Chant (2007) are summarized below in Table 3.3.
Table 3.2 Average Monthly Flows|
|Month||Average Monthly Flows (m3/s)|
|High Falls||Manitou Falls|
Table 3.3 High- and Low-Flow Return Period Flows|
|Return period (years)||Flood Flows (m3/s)||Drought Flows (m3/s)|
| ||High Falls||Manitou Falls||High Falls||Manitou Falls|
3.2.2 Biological Environment
184.108.40.206 Fish and Fish Habitat
The MNR SDP notes that fish species in the Pic River include lake sturgeon, rainbow trout, salmon,
northern pike, walleye and brook trout, and that there are likely other species present that have not
been documented. The salmonid species seasonally migrate into the Pic River from Lake Superior to
spawn. Further, the SDP notes that lake sturgeon, walleye and rainbow trout spawning sites are
present at Manitou Falls, although the exact location, extent and usage have not been identified.
Rainbow trout spawning has also been noted at Middle Falls, which indicates that rainbow trout
must be migrating upstream past Manitou Falls to spawn.
An interagency study was undertaken in 2002 to assess lake sturgeon and collect tissue samples for
genetic analysis in tributaries of Lake Superior, including Pic River (Quinlan, 2002). Large mesh gill
netting and set lining were used to sample lake sturgeon in the two main areas, including the reach
10 km upstream from Lake Superior (including the Black and Little Black Rivers, which drain into the
Pic River) and the area at the Kagiano River mouth. A total of 16 different sturgeon were captured,
with 14 being from the confluence of the Pic and Kagiano Rivers. Three of the fish captured were
ripe males in spawning condition. Quinlan (2002) noted that suitable spawning habitat was present
downstream from Lower Falls on the Kagiano River, downstream from Manitou Falls and
downstream from the Wataway GS on the Black River, with the site on the Kagiano River appearing
to have the most suitable spawning habitat in terms of area, substrate and flow. Quinlan (2002) also
provided anecdotal reports that local anglers indicated more sturgeon are found in the Kagiano River
than at Manitou Falls.
The Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre (AOFRC) initiated a lake sturgeon radio tracking
assessment at the downstream end of the Pic River in 2008. DFO is conducting sturgeon
assessments at the Kagiano River and Manitou Falls areas. These studies will provide additional data
regarding sturgeon populations and movements in the Pic River.
220.127.116.11 Terrestrial Vegetation and Wildlife
The study area is located with the Central Plateau portion of the Boreal Forest Region of Ontario.
Jack pine is prevalent throughout this area as a result of extensive sand and gravel deposits and low
rocky outcrops. Black spruce forest communities are also well developed, and mixing of these
coniferous species is common with white birch and trembling aspen. In mixedwood communities,
there is a tendency for the development of a strong shrub understorey (Rowe, 1972). There are no
vegetation species at risk identified on either the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), or the provincial
Endangered Species Act, 2007, with ranges that overlap that of the study area.
No wildlife surveys are known to have been completed within the vicinity of the proposed
development, however populations would be expected to be consistent with those found throughout
The study area occurs within the range of several avian Species at Risk (such as Bald Eagles, Canada
Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher). Potential occurrences of these species will be determined through
field studies to be conducted in the area.
The zone of discontinuous distribution for Woodland Caribou, a Threatened species both federally
and provincially, in Ontario overlaps the study area (MNR, 2009). Any observations/evidence of
caribou use of the study area will be noted during site investigations. No other mammalian Species
at Risk are expected to occur.
No reptile or amphibian Species at Risk are expected to occur within the study area.
3.3 Socioeconomic Features
3.3.1 Current and Past Land Uses
The project is located in Davies Township within Thunder Bay District on provincial Crown land.
The Pic River is known to be a traditional canoe route, utilized during the fur trade and later during
the log drive. Currently, resource extraction continues. The High and Manitou Falls areas, as well as
the Pic River itself are valued based on their provision of recreational and tourism opportunities.
The project is located within General Use Area “G2688: The Interior” as per the Crown Land Use
Policy Atlas. According to the Policy Report the primary intent of this area is to provide for resource
extraction activities including commercial power generation development (MNR, 2006).
18.104.22.168 Traditional Canoe and Fur Trade Route
According to MNR’s SDP, High Falls is considered to be of cultural and historical significance as a
traditional canoe and fur trade route. A Stage I Archaeological Assessment will be undertaken to
confirm/establish any archaeological resources. If required, a Cultural Heritage Assessment will also
be completed to determine any cultural heritage resources potentially affected by the project.
The Pic River is known to have been an important waterway during the log drive. In particular the
High Falls area, according to the MNR’s SDP, contains remnants of a former logging camp.
Associated resources are also described within Canoe Manitouwadge to include a watchman’s shack
and ladders, used by employees of the local lumber company to observe and correct log jams.
At present, Marathon Pulp Inc. is the Sustainable Forest License (SFL) holder for the Big Pic Forest,
covering 1.4 million acres within which the project sites are located.
According to the SDP, a Permanent Sample Plot for forest research is located in the vicinity of the
Manitou Falls site (on Manitou Falls Road).
The Pic River represents the border between Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 21A (to the west)
and WMU 21B (to the east). Popular game species in the area include moose, black bear, sharptail,
ruffed and spruce grouse, ptarmigan, rabbit and hare. The project area is located in the vicinity of
three licensed Bear Management Areas (BMAs).
The High Falls and Manitou Falls sites are located within registered trapping area(s). Harvested
furbearing species include beaver, mink, marten, otter, fisher, lynx, muskrat, fox and timber wolf.
According to MNR’s SDP, the High Falls site is located within Baitfish Harvest Area (BHA) WA-0313.
The Manitou Falls site is located within BHA WA-0322.
22.214.171.124 Mineral Resources
The SDP provided by MNR describes the withdrawal of surface rights in the vicinity of the project by
the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM). This includes an area of 94 ha at High
Falls and downstream (approved application). An application has been submitted to MNDM for a
further withdrawal of 1052 ha extending from the High Falls withdrawal to just below Manitou Falls.
High Falls and Manitou Falls are featured within the Manitouwadge Tourism Initiative – Spirit of the
Falls, within which these attractions are detailed in an effort to advertise their recreational appeal.
Neither site is accessible by vehicle, and requires additional travel by ATV, walking, mountain bike,
etc, from the main road.
The Pic River is also considered to be an important recreational resource/tourism area by the Town
of Manitouwadge. Within the publication Canoe Manitouwadge (an effort put forth by the
Manitouwadge Public Consultation Committee (MPCC)) the canoe route - #2 McKay Lake Rd to Pic
River or Highway 17 or Lake Superior, is described, with documentation of the resources along Pic
River, including campsites, portages, and other areas of interest. Campsites in the vicinity of the
project are located at the portages around Manitou and High Falls. There are various other campsites
along the Pic River (MPCC, undated).
According to the MNR’s SPD Manitouwadge continues to focus on economic growth within the
tourism sector, specifically attempting to attract recreational users including snowmobilers, ATV
users, mountain bikers, canoe/kayakers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, winter campers, hikers,
and other naturalists.
3.3.2 Potential Contamination of the Site from Past Uses
No contamination of the proposed sites from previous land use is known or anticipated given the
remote location and greenfield nature of the project.
3.3.3 Proximity to Aboriginal Reserves and Traditional Territory
Potentially affected local Aboriginal communities identified by the MNR include the Ojibways of the
Pic River First Nation, located approximately 70 km south-southwest of the project sites, on the
shores of the Pic River; and Ginoogaming First Nation, located approximately 80 km northwest of
the project sites. In addition, Long Lake No. 58 First Nation, located approximately 85 km northwest
of the project sites; and Pic Mobert First Nation; located approximately 70 km southeast of the
project sites have been identified as potentially affected First Nations.
The project sites have been identified to fall within the traditional use area of these four Aboriginal
communities, and within the Treaty Boundaries of the Robinson Superior Treaty Area. The Pic River
is also defined as a traditional canoe route, the mouth of which, at Lake Superior, is an area where
several historical and archaeological finds have been documented. The site is a ceremonial meeting
place for the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation.
3.3.4 Proximity to Important or Designated Environmental or Cultural Sites
A Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment is scheduled to be undertaken by a licensed archaeologist to
determine whether there is potential for archaeological resources to exist within the project area.
3.3.5 Proximity to Residential and Other Urban Areas
The sites are located approximately 20 km northwest of the Town of Manitouwadge. There are no
residential or other urban areas in closer proximity to the sites.