Notice of permit

Regional or Local Number: SARA-PYR-2017-0393

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 73 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. SARA-PYR-2017-0393 is issued.

Affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity

This permit authorizes representatives of the National Research Council to incidentally destroy potential residences and to capture and handle individuals of three species at risk to move them out of harm’s way during construction within the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, near Kaleden, British Columbia. The proposed project includes the construction of a concrete pad foundation (23 m x 40 m) to support the Sprung building (21 m x 29 m), placement of a vacuum infusion lab (9 m x 14 m) which contains infrastructure to support the Sprung building and construction of a gravel roadway for vehicle access. The proposed site of construction is the current Actuated Structure Unit (ASU) compound, which is an area of previously disturbed soil containing buried water and electrical lines, derelict structural equipment, old concrete footings, and the operational Hot Cold Test Facility. Construction timing is intended to avoid impacts to any snake or amphibian species at risk that may have overwintered in pocket gopher mounds on site. Topsoil removed during construction activities will be examined carefully to remove and move any snakes or amphibians outside of the construction area into adjacent suitable habitat.

Start Date: 2017-07-31   End Date: 2020-04-30

Issuing Authority: Environment Canada

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • British Columbia

Affected Species:

a) All reasonable alternatives to the activities that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solutions have been adopted. Consideration was given to the options of doing nothing and undertaking construction at other locations. 1) The infrastructure already exists and is used at a location less suitable to the needs of the applicant. Transporting completed reflectors back to the Observatory was in fact attempted but is not possible for logistical and safety reasons. Construction at other locations did not meet operational needs, and on-site production of antenna components was deemed necessary. 2) Alternative sites to the one being proposed were also considered east of the Observatory facility but on the same property; however, from both environmental and technical perspectives they were considered less desirable. 3) The chosen site is intended to minimize all other environmental issues like sprawling and trenching long distances through critical habitat for multiple species at risk, contributing to fragmentation of habitat, and spread of invasive and noxious weeds. This location is adjacent to existing structures and on existing disturbed land that does not possess biophysical features and attributes of critical habitat. It minimizes potential incidental effects to individuals within residences for some amphibian and reptile species. b) All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of activities on the species. In order to minimize impacts to herptiles (and other species) that could be making use of pocket gopher holes identified on site, land clearing and construction activities are proposed to be conducted during the spring, or following the installation of exclusion fences (no earlier than May 15th). This timing is preferred to avoid disturbance of species during hibernation, to allow herptiles the opportunity to migrate from earthen-dens, and to increase survivorship of salvaged / relocated herptiles. In addition, an environmental monitor will be onsite during site clean-up and removal of old equipment, to watch for potentially uncovered wildlife and ensure workers avoid causing unnecessary soil compaction of rodent burrows; during topsoil removal, to watch for potentially unearthed animals and relocate them in nearby suitable habitat; and during topsoil placement, to provide onsite recommendations for site restoration and watch for potentially unearthed animals within the dumped topsoil. Incidentally encountered wildlife will be relocated to safe and suitable alternate locations by qualified biologists following the “Best Management Practices for Amphibian and Reptile Salvages in British Columbia (Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, 2016)” including Interim Hygiene Protocols for Amphibian Field Staff and Researchers (B.C. MOE 2008). c) The activities will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. No destruction of individuals should result. Although critical habitat polygons for several species overlap the proposed building location (including final, proposed, or candidate for Lewis Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Half-moon Hairstreak, Great Basin Gopher Snake, Western Rattlesnake, Great Basin Spadefoot, Western Tiger Salamander, American Badger, Western Screech Owl), none of the critical habitat biophysical attributes, within the right biophysical features, are present. Pocket gopher burrows are considered important attributes for the American Badger, as well as for the Great Basin Spadefoot, Tiger Salamander, and the Great Basin Gophersnake. The proposed activity will eliminate about 20 pocket gopher burrows; however, these mounds are not on native grassland (ideal habitat or identified biophysical feature in available recovery strategies) and are therefore not considered critical habitat for the purposes of the Species at Risk Act. In addition, pocket gopher burrows are not limited in supply across the White Lake Basin or across the ranges of these species. There is only a low likelihood of encountering the listed species if mitigation measures are followed, and no residences are actually confirmed on the site. It was estimated by a local expert, based on similar experiences at the same site, that no more than 1 individual will be encountered during construction. Although the likelihood of encountering an individual of a species at risk is very low, should accidental mortality occur, the effect is likely to be negligible considering road kill is known to affect hundreds of individuals of these species at risk within a 25km radius. Recovery strategies for all species have population and distribution objectives of maintenance and this project is consistent with those objectives.

Contact Person(s)
Permit Section
Canadian Wildlife Service
Delta, British Columbia
Phone: (604) 940-4650
Fax: (604) 946-7022