Ecological Constraints Mapping for Trail Development
Fiera Biological was retained by Alberta Tourism, Parks, and Recreation to conduct an environmental review and assessment of a proposed trail network in Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area.
The proposed multi-use trail network had the potential to impact the habitat of sensitive wildlife species, as well as posed threats to soil stability, and water quality within a provincially protected area. Thus, proper trail planning and mitigation measures were critical to ensuring the ecological integrity of the sensitive montane environment.
To provide a constraints mapping product that enabled informed trail development, high priority conservation areas were mapped based on three criteria: conservation of soil integrity, conservation of important water bodies, and conservation of threatened species, most notably grizzly bears (a species at risk, (SAR)).
Fine scale elevation mapping from LiDAR imagery (DEM) identified percent slope to determine areas of high erosion and sedimentation risk. Fine scale mapping was used to identify probability of open water and hydric soils. Grizzly bear habitat was assessed through probability of occupancy modeling, and by identifying key movement corridors in the area.
The mapping exercise, together with field verification, allowed for the incorporation of both ecological and socio-economic values to produce a multifunctional healthy landscape for short and long term recreational use.
Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation
September to December 2012