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Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: SSFU-2017-003-GNP

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. SSFU-2017-003-GNP is issued.

Purpose:
Activity affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity

Description:
Road signs will be installed within five areas in Grasslands National Park that are protected under the Emergency Order for the Protection of Greater Sage-grouse (EPO). They will be considered non-compliant with the structural height prohibition as they will be taller than 1.2 metres.

Start Date: 2017-05-08   End Date: 2017-11-01

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Saskatchewan

Affected Species:

Pre-Conditions:
ALTERNATIVES that were considered but not considered the best solution: 1. Not installing Signs: This option is not considered feasible. The park is actively acquiring new lands within its proposed boundaries, and these new lands require adequate and effective infrastructure to be consistent with Parks Canada standards, including signage to facilitate safe navigation of the natural and cultural environment. Simultaneous to park expansion, visitation to the park is steadily increasing, as is the number of incidences involving lost or stranded motor tourists. Providing directional, distance and safety messaging along roads through the park is considered to be part of the park’s due diligence to provide a reasonably safe environment. 2. Installing signs that are 1.2 m from the ground: To safely and effectively navigate vehicle traffic through the park, standards and guidelines based on maximising comprehension and legibility are used. Distance of the sign from the road, vehicle speed, the number of words required to communicate the intended message, are some of the factors that influence the number, placement and dimensions of signs. While many modifications have been made to the proposed sign program to reduce the number and dimensions of signs, overall sign height cannot be less than 1.2 m from the ground without sacrificing the readability of the signs by motorists as the lettering would be too small, and the signs would not be at eye level. MITIGATIONS: Design Mitigations: The design of the individual signs, as well as the overall sign program, have been modified to minimise potential impacts to sage grouse as much as possible without sacrificing the effective communication of essential directional, destination or safety messaging. While following Parks Canada’s Exterior Signage Standards and Guidelines as much as reasonably possible, project-specific modifications were made in order to reduce the total number of signs as well as the dimension of signs to the minimum required for effective communication of important directional, destination and safety messages. Parks Canada’s guidelines are meant to ensure consistency with the framework established by the Federal Identity Program Policy intended to maintain a coherent corporate identity. Modifications that deviate from signage guidelines are: 1. Combining distance and directional messaging. This will reduce the total number of signs required. Generally, distance and directional messaging is provided on separate signs at either end of an intersection. By being selective about what destinations and logos to include in GNP’s vehicle sign program, the number of sign elements were reduced sufficiently to allow directional and distance information to be combined without reducing readability. 2. Excluding “Trailblazer” signs in areas protected by the EPO. This will reduce the total number of signs required. Trailblazers function as directional aids meant to be used in conjunction with highway advance signs and placed near decision points. This sign program will replace existing trailblazer signs with distance and directional signs, and not include any new trailblazer signs within lands protected by the EPO. 3. Removing the “Header Blade”. Header blades described in the PC Exterior Signage Standards and Guidelines. The guidelines were designed to ensure that Parks Canada’s identity program complies with the spirit and intent of the Federal Identity Program, intended to maintain a coherent corporate identity. The Header Blade is a high-visibility identifier for both Parks Canada as well as for the specific site. By eliminating the Header Blade within Grasslands National Park lands, where it is less critical to have Parks Canada and Grasslands National Park high visibility identifiers on navigation/directional signage, the overall sign dimensions and height from the ground are reduced. 4. Placing signs closer to road edges along roads where slower vehicle speeds are expected. Character and symbol size depends on a variety of factors, including what the viewing distance and/or traffic speed is. Based on human factors research and industry standards, Parks Canada has adopted a mandatory character and symbol size structure that will ensure maximum comprehension and legibility for all Parks Canada signs (Parks Canada 2007). By placing signs closer to road edges, and with reduced vehicle speeds, smaller lettering can be used without sacrificing readability 5. Perch deterrents will be used on signs that are visible from active or historic leks, or that overlook sagebrush habitat. Perch deterrents to reduce the frequency and duration of perching will be used on the 3 signs proposed for installation at Dixon Y, as well as the 1 sign proposed for the south entrance of the West Block. Signs installed at the Dixon Y intersection would provide a wide view of the surrounding area and a lek located just under 1 km from the intersection. The south entrance of the park overlooks valley grasslands with sagebrush cover to the north and south, and therefore perch deterrents will be used there as well. Also of note is that the park has removed 11 km of fence from the Dixon/Walker area since 2015, thereby reducing the total number of available artificial perches. Installation Mitigations: The work to install and maintain signs are not expected to impact sage grouse after the application of mitigations described in the basic impact analysis for this project. To reduce potential impacts to critical habitat for sage-grouse, the number of signs as well as the height are reduced to the extent possible without sacrificing the efficacy of important directional messaging (as described in Part B, question 6). JEOPARDY TO SURVIVAL OR RECOVERY OF THE SPECIES: An assessment of potential impacts of the proposed sign program to the Greater Sage-grouse and its critical habitat led to a determination that although the EPO restricts signs taller than 1.2m high, no destruction will occur from the installation of these signs. Mitigations to reduce the total number of signs, to reduce the height of signs from the ground, and to install perch deterrents where signs occur near sensitive habitat, should reduce both direct impacts of behavioural avoidance as well as indirect impacts of increased pressure from predatory birds as a result of the project. Site-based population and distribution objectives for greater sage-grouse in GNP’s Multi-species Action Plan are to prevent the extirpation of sage grouse from GNP, restore 25 ha/year of sage grouse habitat, demonstrate an increasing trend in male lek attendance and over the long-term to increase the numbers of mating areas to 6-8 leks with a total population of 300-400 individual birds. The population and distribution objective for this species set out in GNP’s Multi-species Action Plan is not expected to be impacted by this project. The park is actively engaged in sage-grouse habitat restoration activities including grazing and vegetation restoration.

Contact Person(s)
Parks Canada
Species Conservation and Management
Natural Resource Conservation
Parks Canada
30 Victoria Street 3rd floor
Gatineau, QC
J8X 0B3
Tel: 888-773-8888
Fax: 819-420-9273
pca_sar.registrycomments@pc.gc.ca