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Rare Plant Surveys: lower foothills, Alberta

As part the regulatory requirements for a large gravel extraction operation in the lower foothills west of Whitcourt, Alberta, an extensive rare plant survey was required to cover a 425 ha study area.

Rare plant surveys were guided by standards outlined by the Alberta Native Plant Council (ANPC). A meander survey method was followed and focused on sampling representative habitats within the study area, with an emphasis on topographic features and microhabitats where rare plants were most likely to occur. In total, approximately 51 km of meander survey routes were surveyed over two sampling periods (June 9 to 12 and July 26 to 27). All plant species encountered during the surveys were documented in order to create a comprehensive plant occurrence list for the study area. Plants considered rare were those listed provincially as S1 (critically imperiled), S2 (imperiled), or S3 (vulnerable) by the Alberta Conservation Information Management System (ACIMS).

Fiera botanists identified a total of 194 vascular and non-vascular plant species  over the two survey campaigns, including one rare plant, pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa). Pinsap is listed as S3 in Alberta, meaning that it is “known from 100 or fewer occurrences, or somewhat vulnerable due to other factors, such as restricted range, relatively small population sizes, etc.. Eight clusters of pinesap were detected and mapped, and notes were made of the micro habitats in which they were found.

Pinsap (Hypopitys monotropa), a rare plant found during rare plant surveys. Fiera Biological Consulting.
Pinsap (Hypopitys monotropa), a rare plant found during rare plant surveys. Fiera Biological Consulting.

Key Personnel / Role

Tonya Lwiwski / Professional Biologist, Senior Botanist, Field Coordinator

Green Plan

Project Duration
June to August, 2016