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Wildlife and vegetation assessment for an aggregate extraction operation

As part of the regulatory requirements for the operation of a Surface Material Lease (SML), a Conservation and Reclamation Business Plan (CRBP) must be developed. A CRBP is a detailed Master Development Plan that outlines how an aggregate resource will be developed, with consideration of issues related to land management and environmental impacts. The CRBP must clearly outline the end land use and reclamation plan for a site, as well as strategies to lessen environmental impacts.

As per the Government of Alberta’s Guidelines for Surface Material Dispositions on Public Land (Alberta Sustainable Resource Development 2008) and Supplemental Guidelines for Aggregate Operations (Government of Alberta 2012), a wildlife and vegetation assessment is required as part of a CRBP. The guidelines provide a framework that outlines in detail the type of assessments that are required, as well as guidelines for the methods that should be employed to sample flora and fauna as part of the impact assessment.

As part of the development of a CRBP for a 900 ha SML in west central Alberta, our team was retained to complete an inventory and impact assessment on wildlife and vegetation resources. This included detailed ecosite mapping, rare plant surveys, migratory songbird surveys, amphibian surveys, bat surveys, and Species At Risk surveys. Because the site was located within a designated Key Wildlife and Biodiversity Zone, as well as within a critical linkage area for grizzly bears, detailed recommendations were provided for the management of sensitive species and critical habitat resources.