View topic - Hydrolines rerouted - to avoid impact on Wabakimi caribou

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 1:20 pm 
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I missed that when it was announced:
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CPAWS Wildlands League, a leading conservation group in the province, applauds a decision today by Minister Brad Duguid to re-route a permanent transmission line in north-western Ontario along existing roads and infrastructure. In particular, the group is pleased that healthy intact Boreal Forests and habitat for threatened caribou populations will be avoided.

“It’s a win for Ontario’s pocketbook and a win for critters, parks and waterways,” says Janet Sumner, Executive Director. “It is comforting to know that when our decision-makers weigh their duty to endangered species and to advancing economic growth, that they can find a middle way, a path where the environment and the economy prosper,” Sumner adds. ”After all, the re-routed line will be cheaper to build than the original route proposed.”

Today Minister Duguid released Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. In it the plan states: “A new transmission line to Pickle Lake— one of this plan’s five priority projects — will help to service the new mining load and help to enable future connections north of Pickle Lake. Subject to cost contributions from benefiting parties, Ontario will focus on supplying Pickle Lake from the Ignace/Dryden area immediately.”

The northern section of Hydro One’s original route would have severed caribou habitat in Wabikimi Provincial Park from the intact habitat further north. It is widely acknowledged that Wabakimi is not nearly big enough to support healthy caribou populations and as one scientist lamented, this new permanent disturbance would have only helped “to hasten the demise of caribou in this part of Ontario”. With today’s announcement, this is no longer a risk. An option that twins existing roads and infrastructure from Ignace/Dryden prevailed over charting a course through pristine Boreal Forests.

“We are over the moon,” says Anna Baggio, Director Conservation Land Use Planning. “We thank Minister Duguid and Ontario for bringing 21st century leadership to 21st century challenges, like endangered species habitat and electrical transmission,” Baggio adds. “This sets a strong precedent for Ontario that we hope can be applied to other resource sectors broadly.”

CPAWS is a signatory to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement along with other environmental groups and major forest companies, which is aimed at joint leadership in the Boreal Forest. Finding thoughtful solutions for caribou and the economy is part of CPAWS’ nationwide Boreal woodland caribou conservation campaign.

:clap:

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 1:39 pm 
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An option that twins existing roads and infrastructure from Ignace/Dryden prevailed over charting a course through pristine Boreal Forests.


Let's hope there is more of this kind of common sense approach in decision making. It's so refreshing.

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 3:10 pm 
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I've lived in Alberta too long to think that they did this for any other reason than money:
”After all, the re-routed line will be cheaper to build than the original route proposed.”
You can bet that if re-routing had cost more, the it would not have happened.
Nice that it worked out for the caribou.
Ralph


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 3:15 pm 
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While I don't disagree that this is a good thing (and I believe that it is), I just have to shake my head when people say that caribou won't cross powerlines or roadways. They frequently cross both, and use both as travel corridors. How do I know? Taken about 2 weeks ago.


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 3:20 pm 
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Nice that it worked out for the caribou.

Nice too for the integrity of the upper reaches of the Albany River. The original proposed high-voltage line would have crossed the river somewhere downstream from Patte Lake in the scenic area of three waterfalls (Upper Eskawa, Eskawa & Snake). I second the proposal that this decision is a win-win solution for the caribou but it's also a coup for wilderness canoeists.


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 4:35 pm 
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Ralph wrote:
You can bet that if re-routing had cost more, the it would not have happened.
Nice that it worked out for the caribou.
A great decision, for sure … but I wouldn't discount hydro development as a motivating factor? People don't usually propose more expensive options for no apparent reason. I'd be interested to know if anybody has any information or perspective on this? NOMA wanted a transmission line up the east side of Lake Nipigon (mainly to connect up the proposed 100 MW Little Jackfish proposal). Are they now pursuing a different plan?


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 4:47 pm 
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Low1 wrote:
... I just have to shake my head when people say that caribou won't cross powerlines or roadways. They frequently cross both, and use both as travel corridors. How do I know? Taken about 2 weeks ago.


An interesting picture: I thought woodland caribou is rather solitary and does not migrate. Your photo shows a herd, and I wonder whether the animals up there are maybe closer to the barren land caribou... Do you know?
The Cdn Encyclopedia explains it like this:
Quote:
In Canada, one subspecies, Peary caribou, (R. t. pearyi), lives in the ARCTIC ARCHIPELAGO. A second group, barren-ground caribou (R.t. groenlandicus), are found north of the TREELINE in Nunavut in summer, migrating south to northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba in winter. The third group, woodland caribou (R.t. caribou), inhabit mountains and forests from BC to Newfoundland.


Also, I have not heard the threat to W. caribou described as "they don't cross roads". I guess this isjust how folks talk, or did you find such wording in serious reading material?

I keep reading that they need large undisturbed forests to thrive, like in the following article:
Quote:
...The Boreal woodland caribou is currently listed as <em>threatened</em> under the federal Species at Risk Act. However, while the legislation protects the Boreal woodland caribou from being hunted, it does not protect it from habitat disruption or loss. Recent studies have suggested that at least half of the entire Boreal forest should remain intact to sustain current caribou populations, and that without large, undisturbed ranges, the Boreal woodland caribou will continue to face devastating losses. Additional research is still required to understand and determine the maximum level of forest disturbance that can be tolerated by the caribou. Scientists are calling for a halt to all further disturbance and development in the Boreal forest, until this research has been completed and a binding policy has been established to conserve critical forest habitats.

http://www.janegoodall.ca/planet-releaf ... ribou.html

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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 5:20 pm 
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I think the Woodland Caribou like to get together in the winter. After all they can't be going solo for the whole year or they would die out. :wink:
I have also heard that a good place to see them in the winter is on the runway at the Armstrong airport. So.. seeing them on a winter road as a small herd should not surprise us.

I was trying to find Minister Duguid's actual news release stating the demise of the NW Transmission project. Any one found it yet?

Also, I notice that Hydro One is still showing the original NW Transmission project on their website. I would have thought by now that it would have been removed and the new project would have been displayed.

Does anyone know where this new transmission line to Pickle Lake is actually going to cross the land? As I understand it , the line will now go from Dryden to Sioux Lookout and then up Highway 599 to Pickle Lake. Does anyone know if that is correct?

And so what happens now to the wind power project on the east side of Lake Nipigon and of course the Little Jackfish River upgrade?


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 5:40 pm 
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Predominantly we see the Pen Island herd through here. They are somewhat of a unique herd, referred to as "coastal" rather than barren or woodland. Although they are physically nearly identical to woodland caribou (if they are different in any way at all), they tend to herd and migrate like barrenground.

http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildl ... ribou.html

Occasionally we will see the the Qamanirjuaq Caribou herd through here, although not often. There are some local animals as well, remnants of the Nelson-Hayes population that papers claim no longer exist (although there are at least a handful of local, woodland caribou living on the island that my cabin is on.)

Hunters up here prefer the Pen Island herd as generally locals are not trophy hunters, but sustinence hunters, and the woodland/coastal caribou have much larger bodies, and smaller antlers.

We've heard many many times that "scientific studies show they won't cross hydro corridors or roadways", and that is always used as an argument against new hydro lines. As far as asking for a source, I really don't have any, just what has been said time and time again locally. I've personally watched both solitary (or groups or two or three) local woodland caribou, as well as the wandering herds travel miles down the hydro lines, criss-crossing back and forth. They sure do not appear to be deterred by the linear corridors, and use them to their advantage.


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 5:58 pm 
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I would think that the open area presented by a hydro corridor would be satisfactory for them to travel on. I understand they seek out old growth boreal to live in. The old growth being more open, so they can see their predators (wolves/man) coming from a distance and take flight if necessary.

But... I don't know very much about them at all and have only managed to see maybe about a 1/2 dozen in my boreal travels. :(

This past summer I saw a very curious one along the Opichuan River south of Kagianagami Lake. It stood and looked at us for maybe 5 minutes as we drifted along. Usually they are so elusive that they see you and disappear into the bush in about 30 or so seconds.


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 6:13 pm 
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I have never heard that a caribou won't cross a road. I don' t have a pic of one that nearly ran into my truck head on but here is one clearly crossing a road near a town

Image

Its a woodland caribou in Newfoundland. Caribou herds there are on the decline. Perhaps its roads and increased human pressure and disturbance of calving grounds. For sure its increased pressure from dog-wolf-coyote hybrids from what the locals tell me. Predators use roads very well too to get around. Habitat damage is probably a prime cause of failure to thrive.

http://www.taiga.net/pcmb/updates_04.html

You might also find this of interest

http://www.ontla.on.ca/library/reposito ... 292200.pdf


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 6:32 pm 
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I was trying to find Minister Duguid's actual news release stating the demise of the NW Transmission project. Any one found it yet?

I don't believe the Minister actually made an announcement or issued a news release. I have traced the origin of the CPAWS announcement to the release of the publication, Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan, which is available on-line as a .pdf file at: http://www.mei.gov.on.ca/en/pdf/MEI_LTEP_en.pdf

Rather than expect CCR readers to wade through the entire document, I direct you to Chapter 4 - Reliable Transmission/Modern Distribution which begins on page 40. The map on page 45 (Figure 11: Transmission Investments: Complete, Underway and Proposed) clearly depicts the Dryden-Pickle lake transmission line. The oblique angle of the transmission line would suggest the route will pass through, or near, Sioux Lookout.

Further on in the document on page 50, there is mention of the transmission line which seems to be the basis of the celebratory announcement from CPAWS:
Quote:
Ontario’s remote First Nation communities currently rely on diesel generation for
their electricity supply — but diesel fuel is expensive, difficult to transport, and poses
environmental and health risks. According to analysis done so far, transmission
connection would be less expensive over the long term than continued diesel use
for many remote communities.

New transmission supply to Pickle Lake is a crucial first step to enable the connection
of remote communities in northwestern Ontario. A new transmission line to Pickle Lake
— one of this plan’s five priority projects — will help to service the new mining load
and help to enable future connections north of Pickle Lake. Subject to cost contributions
from benefiting parties, Ontario will focus on supplying Pickle Lake from the Ignace/
Dryden area immediately. A line to serve the Nipigon area specifically will continue
to be considered as the need for it evolves.

As part of this project, the government will also ask the OPA to develop a plan for
remote community connections beyond Pickle Lake, including consideration of the
relevant cost contributions from benefiting parties, including the federal government.
This plan may also consider the possibility of onsite generation such as small wind
and water to reduce communities’ diesel use.


[Edit: We're not out of the woods yet! The kicker at the end of the second paragraph leaves the door open for future development of the Lake Nipigon East transmission line.]


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PostPosted: December 9th, 2010, 7:33 pm 
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Low1 wrote:
We've heard many many times that "scientific studies show they won't cross hydro corridors or roadways"
This isn't at all what people or scientists say about caribou and development (perhaps opponents to environmental claims describe it this way). I pulled up a few scientific reports on issue, the first four articles in my search (caribou and linear corridors, population declines, snowmobiles, and roads). They all focus mainly on the impact of roads and linear corridors on caribou predation (from wolves or humans), broad shifts in population densities (towards less developed areas), and habitat loss. Caribou will readily cross roads, transmission lines, pipelines … but they tend to prefer areas where the foraging is good, they feel safe, and there is less interference from industry (particularly in calving areas). With more roads and development, it's also possible there is a false impression that caribou seem to be gravitating towards these developments (as their travel options are further constrained). But it's mostly habitat, predation, and broad population shifts (which do impact breeding rates) that are a focus.


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PostPosted: December 10th, 2010, 7:31 am 
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Voyageur wrote:
[Edit: We're not out of the woods yet! The kicker at the end of the second paragraph leaves the door open for future development of the Lake Nipigon East transmission line.]
I see it the same way :(

I've searched pretty hard for any other news stories related to this announcement, and can find nothing beyond the initial statements included in "Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan." Wawatay News has a story, but it simply quotes from the Energy Plan. CPAWS too, although it wishes to claim caribou considerations were important to the new transmission line proposal. You would think there would be discussion of this if it was a significant enough factor to lead to a major "re-route" (especially with eager stakeholders in Pickle Lake and on the east side of Nipigon actively lobbying and consulting for a transmission line connecting large hydro and wind projects). All I can find is the statement you provided: "A line to serve the Nipigon area specifically will continue to be considered as the need for it evolves."

I don't want to be a skunk at the picnic … but I think CPAWS jumped the gun on this one (eager to report positive news). Nobody else is calling this a "re-route" (even weeks after the initial announcement). No discussion of caribou, no reaching out to disgruntled stakeholders planning for large energy projects on the east side of Nipigon, and no statements that Hydro One has abandoned the Nipigon line (actually, specific statements to the contrary). I wouldn't be surprised if they are thinking they can get both lines over time. This document from Ontario Power Authority suggests the same: demand growth north of Dryden and timing considerations. Certainly, with anticipated large mining developments in the Ring of Fire, it's possible two transmission lines to the area will eventually be warranted (especially with large energy sources planned along the east side of Lake Nipigon).


Last edited by idylwyld on December 10th, 2010, 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 10th, 2010, 7:38 am 
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Ouch!
Let me see whether I can find out what makes the CPAWS folks so optimistic...

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