Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: WLNP-2016-038

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. WLNP-2016-038 is issued.

Purpose:
Activity necessary or beneficial to the species

Description:
Parks Canada will be conducting a prescribed fire on the Eskerine Complex and Horseshoe Basin Burn units. These activities can only be conducted when environmental conditions are optimal and will not be occurring throughout the duration of the authorization. Prescribed fires are required to restore ecological integrity by mimicking natural disturbances in areas where wildfires were historically suppressed and maintaining open grassland habitat, and open forest habitat, which will contribute to increased habitat diversity and grassland health. These activities will contravene section 32 for Whitebark Pine and sections 32 and 58 for Half-moon Hairstreak. Although prescribed fires are expected to benefit all of the affected SARA-listed species in general, it can be reasonably expected that some cone-bearing and non-terminally infected Whitebark Pine trees, as well as some overwintering Half-moon Hairstreak larvae will be destroyed. Whitebark Pine is found on higher elevation slopes in the proposed burn units. This species and its habitat have been identified as being on the decline due to fire exclusion and competition with more shade tolerant species. This and the added stress due to non-native white pine blister rust has led to a serious decline in Whitebark Pine populations. The planned prescribed fires will create more colonization habitat for Whitebark Pine and contribute to the species recovery. It is anticipated that the soils and substratum layer associated with any healthy Whitebark Pine trees will not be negatively affected by the proposed fire – that is, the substratum layer will still contain the attributes necessary for Whitebark Pine regeneration and/or persistence at the site. In addition, prescribed fire may enhance the biophysical attributes related to regeneration of Whitebark Pine by reducing the potential for shrub or tree encroachment. The planned prescribed fires will create more open grassland habitat for the Half-moon Hairstreak. Reducing the potential for shrub or tree encroachment is also expected to benefit Half-moon Hairstreak by increasing available grassland habitat.

Start Date: 2017-04-19   End Date: 2027-03-31

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Alberta

Affected Species:

Pre-Conditions:
a)All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted: The alternatives considered include: mechanical removal of encroaching species and no fire for Whitebark Pine; and mechanical removal of vegetation, chemical removal of vegetation, and no fire for Half-moon Hairstreak habitat. For both species, the option of no prescribed fire would result in an elevated risk of habitat loss through large uncontrollable wildlifes and the loss of historic fire intervals that can lead to the loss of an ecosystem process that is a component of landscape management. In the case of Whitebark Pine, the mechanical removal of encroaching species of small tree diameters cannot duplicate the effects of fire and can is prohibitively cost ineffective at the scale required in Waterton Lakes National Park. While mechanical removal is beneficial as part of local scale habitat management, mechanical removal alone will not achieve the ecological objectives of the project. For Half-moon Hairstreak, mechanical removal of vegetation will not address the impacts of brome invasion and address the effective removal of accumulated litter and mechanical removal alone will not achieve the ecological objectives of the project. Additionally, for Half-moon Hairstreak, the use of chemical control on the brome invasion as a sole strategy will also not address the accumulated litter/duff layer found in brome patches, which could negatively impact the revegetation potential of native species. b)All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species or its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals: In areas where Whitebark Pine are present, preventative measures (such as wetting fuels around trees, bole firing, brushing adjacent fuels, or complete avoidance) will be taken, particularly in areas where putatively rust-resistant Whitebark Pine have been identified prior to burning, to avoid accidental destruction of these trees. Seed and Scion collection will also be completed, towards conserving genetic diversity, producing seedlings for blister rust resistance testing and for restoration planting. The prescribed fire in the Half-moon Hairstreak critical habitat polygon will largely target areas that are outside the core habitat of the Half-moon Hairstreak. The vegetation community will also assessed pre- and post-burn to assess the system response to fire, including range health, weed population, and critical habitat attributes. A weed monitoring and control program will be implemented to address potential weed species have proliferated post-fire. c)The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species: The site-based population and distribution objective identified in the proposed Multi-species Action Plan for Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada and Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada (Parks Canada 2017a) is “to establish a self-sustaining, rust-resistant population of Whitebark Pine that demonstrates natural seed dispersal, connectivity, genetic diversity and adaptability to changing climate.” The activity is expected to assist in achieving these objective through a reduction in competition with shade-tolerant species and the creation of Whitebark Pine regeneration habitat. The Population and Distribution Objective identified in the Recovery Strategy for the Half-moon Hairstreak is “to ensure the persistence of Half-moon Hairstreak at all known extant locations (and any new locations) within the species’ range in Canada”. Site-based population and distribution objectives as identified in the proposed Multi-species Action Plan for Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada and Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada (Parks Canada 2017a) is “to ensure the persistence of Half-moon Hairstreak at its known location within WLNP.” The planned prescribed fires are expected to affect approximately 21% of the critical habitat polygon. The prescribed fire targets an area outside of the core habitat with lower quality habitat and is not expected to impact the ability to meet population and distribution objectives for the species.

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