Kari Gunson Report – from testimony Mar 27 2013

March 31, 2013 admin Latest Posts

Kari Gunson, Road Ecologist, Eco-Kare International

Access roads bring vehicles and people into areas where wildlife live.

 

The road and project will cover and change the habitat with which Blanding’s turtles have evolved with over time, and the risk of road mortality has led to a proposed road mitigation strategy, approved by the MNR, in the overall benefit permit. It is the usual ‘tool-box’ of measures any road ecologist would recommend when putting new roads into a wildlife area: education and training, no maintenance vehicles in June, signage, speed bumps, etc. However on Ostrander Point she found these measures temporary and ineffective.

 

The MNR claims the road will be open to the public, and therefore the onus will be on the drivers to follow the speed limit and avoid the turtles which will use the roads for travel and nesting.  An adaptive monitoring strategy of implementing culverts and fencing, would also not work because they would travel on the road rather than cross through a culvert.  In addition, fencing is a barrier for movement and would need to be used sparingly, and most likely turtles will walk around any fencing to get on the road. The road configuration bisects good habitat so the entire road is a potential road-turtle conflict hotspot so prioritizing locations for culverts will be difficult. In addition, building culverts into alvar rock is probably not practical or feasible, which is why culverts are not in Stantec’s plans.

 

The traffic volume will be heavy during construction but even afterwards each turtle using the road will be at risk. Risk factors include people taking turtles as pets, intentionally or accidentally running over turtles, nests being predated, and nests being run over and compacted.  As we know every female killed and harassed causes a further decline of this threatened species, and historically there have already been at least three road-killed adults on the low-use Babylon road bordering the proposed wind farm study area.

 

Kari thinks the mitigation tool-box does not include the most important measure – don’t build the road in the first place.

 

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