Guidelines for Evaluating, Avoiding and Mitigating Impacts of Major Development Projects on Wildlife in British Columbia

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1 Some of the information may be out of date. Proponents should discuss management issues, mitigation and compensation initiatives with regional B.C. Ministry of Environment staff. Guidelines for Evaluating, Avoiding and Mitigating Impacts of Major Development Projects on Wildlife in British Columbia By W.L. Harper, RPBio, J.M. Cooper, RPBio, K. Simpson, RPBio, J. Hamilton, MSc, K.A. Dunham, MA, and D.S. Eastman, RPBio April 2001

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES... 4 I. INTRODUCTION... 5 A. PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING TECHNICAL GUIDELINES... 6 B. CONTENT OF TECHNICAL GUIDELINES... 6 C. APPLICATION OF GUIDELINES... 6 II. LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK... 7 A. THE BCEAA PROCESS PROJECT REVIEW THRESHOLDS STAGES OF PROJECT REVIEW TIMELINES CONSULTATION LINKS TO OTHER PROCESSES B. FEDERAL LEGISLATION CEAA REVIEW PROPOSED SPECIES AT RISK ACT (SARA) C. MELP AND BCEAA COORDINATION WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES PROJECT APPROVAL CERTIFICATE CONDITIONS AND COMPLIANCE REVIEW PERMITTING CONCURRENT REVIEWS III. PROVINCIAL LEGISLATION A. BC WILDLIFE ACT B. BC PARK ACT C. BC ECOLOGICAL RESERVE ACT D. BC FISH PROTECTION ACT E. FOREST PRACTICES CODE F. PERMITS, LICENCES AND APPROVALS NORMALLY REQUIRED AUTHORIZATIONS PURSUANT TO THE WILDLIFE ACT AUTHORIZATIONS PURSUANT TO THE PARK ACT IV. SOURCES FOR INFORMATION ON TERRESTRIAL RESOURCES. 24 A. RARE AND ENDANGERED SPECIES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES B. SPECIES OF MANAGEMENT CONCERN C. ECOSYSTEM AND WILDLIFE HABITAT MAPPING D. WILDLIFE SPECIES INVENTORY (SPI) E. HARVEST DATA F. MINISTRY OF FORESTS G. WILDLIFE ACCIDENT REPORTING SYSTEM (WARS) H. GOVERNMENT OF CANADA I. UNIVERSITIES J. NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGO) K. PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 2

3 V. POTENTIAL WILDLIFE IMPACTS: A GENERAL PERSPECTIVE A. LINEAR DEVELOPMENTS HIGHWAYS, RAILWAYS AND ROADS ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINES AND OIL AND GAS PIPELINES B. MINING HABITAT ALTERATION ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION INCREASED ACCESS BARRIERS TO MOVEMENT C. INDUSTRIAL PROCESSING PLANTS METAL SMELTERS WASTE MANAGEMENT PLANTS COGENERATION POWER PLANTS PULP MILLS PETROCHEMICAL PROCESSING D. HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS SHORT TERM LONG TERM E. TOURISM AND RECREATION DEVELOPMENTS VI. WILDLIFE IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR EA PROJECTS VII. A. GENERIC APPROACH TO EA FOR WILDLIFE SPECIES INVENTORY TERRESTRIAL HABITAT INVENTORY ASSESSMENT OF IMPACTS TO WILDLIFE AND WILDLIFE HABITAT ACCESS ISSUES B. SPECIES-SPECIFIC EA FOR WILDLIFE HOOFED MAMMALS - UNGULATES CARNIVORES OTHER MAMMALS BIRDS FRESHWATER NESTING BIRDS RAPTORS BIRDS OF PREY GROUSE WHITE-THROATED SWIFT RED- AND BLUE-LISTED WOODPECKERS PASSERINE BIRDS - SONGBIRDS REPTILES AMPHIBIANS COMPONENTS OF WILDLIFE HABITAT PLANTS AND PLANT COMMUNITIES WILDLIFE AND WILDLIFE HABITAT MITIGATION MEASURES FOR EA PROJECTS A. GENERIC WILDLIFE MITIGATION MEASURES FOR EA PROJECTS B. POTENTIAL WILDLIFE MITIGATION STRATEGIES FOR SPECIFIC EA PROJECT CATEGORIES HIGHWAYS, RAILWAYS AND ROADS ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINES AND OIL AND GAS PIPELINES MINES INDUSTRIAL PROCESSING PLANTS Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 3

4 5. HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS TOURISM RESORTS C. POTENTIAL WILDLIFE SPECIES-SPECIFIC MITIGATION STRATEGIES FOR EA PROJECTS HOOFED MAMMALS - UNGULATES CARNIVORES OTHER MAMMALS BIRDS FRESHWATER NESTING BIRDS RAPTORS BIRDS OF PREY GROUSE WHITE-THROATED SWIFT RED- AND BLUE-LISTED WOODPECKERS PASSERINE BIRDS - SONGBIRDS REPTILES AMPHIBIANS COMPONENTS OF WILDLIFE HABITAT PLANTS AND PLANT COMMUNITIES D. MONITORING VIII. LITERATURE CITED IX. APPENDICES LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Examples of activities requiring authorization under permits issued under the Wildlife Act Permit Regulation Table 2. List of regional offices of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks Table 3. List of activities related to evaluating, avoiding and mitigating impacts of major development projects on wildlife under BCEAA (see Figure 1) Table 4. Inventory manuals in RIC s standards for components of British Columbia s biodiversity series Table 5. Inventory manuals in RIC s standards for terrestrial ecology series Table 6. Cliff-nesting raptors of conservation concern Table 7. Tree-nesting raptors of conservation concern or special interest Table 8. Tree-nesting owls of conservation concern (Red- or Blue-listed) LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Flowchart of activities related to evaluating, avoiding and mitigating impacts of major development projects on wildlife under BCEAA Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 4

5 I. INTRODUCTION The report is divided into five major sections. The first section describes the purpose and applications of guidelines. The second part discusses the legislative, regulatory and approval framework that makes up the provincial environmental assessment process as it relates to wildlife. Next, sources of information on provincial wildlife are described. The fourth section generally summarizes potential impacts on wildlife arising from the seven broad types of major developments. The fifth section describes generic and speciesspecific approaches wildlife environmental assessment. The sixth and final section presents mitigation measures for selected groups of wildlife species. In presenting information on environmental assessment approaches and guidelines for mitigation a coarse filter fine filter approach was used. Environmental assessment approaches that are widely applicable for a variety of wildlife species are discussed in a generic section. More species-specific approaches are presented in separate sections on individual species or groups of species. Mitigation measures were developed in a similar way, beginning with a coarse filter approach that presents generic guidelines applicable to all wildlife and all project categories. At next level, potential mitigation strategies are discussed that are specific to a project category (e.g. hydroelectric development) but are widely applicable to most wildlife species. The lowest level presents wildlife mitigation strategies that are specific to both the project category and wildlife species. Whenever appropriate, environmental assessment approaches and potential mitigation strategies are lumped together with other species or types of projects to minimize the number of separate guidelines. The report addresses terrestrial animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians), their habitats, as well as plants and plant communities considered at risk in British Columbia. In order to remain consistent with the jurisdictional responsibilities of the BC Wildlife Program, marine mammals (i.e. whales and seals), and fish are not addressed in this report. Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are also not addressed in this report, but are the subject of separate and similar report British Columbia Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Grizzly Bears and Black Bears (MacHutchon 2001). Most of the species discussed in this report are Red- or Blue-listed (i.e. threatened, endangered or vulnerable) while others are regionally significant or have characteristics that make them especially vulnerable to major developments. These guidelines are comparable to guidelines for other industries in British Columbia, such as the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy for the forest industry (Province of BC 1997, 1999), or the Guidelines for Mitigating the Impact of Commercial Backcountry Recreation (Harper and Eastman 2000, MELP 2000). Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 5

6 A. PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING TECHNICAL GUIDELINES The purpose of the guidelines is to provide proponents with information, in a number of Ministry program areas, on how to conduct environmental assessments of projects reviewed under the BC Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA). These guidelines can also be utilized in non-bceaa projects with associated potential wildlife impacts. One of the key objectives of these guidelines is to provide potential project proponents with an early indication of any wildlife/wildlife habitat information requirements in the preparation of a project application. The intent of providing guidelines is to: Guide proponents with potential EA projects in the development of project approval applications and project reports; Assist in providing provincial consistency and continuity in the ministry s data and information requirements; Ensure that the requirements under the BC Environmental Assessment Act and ministry wildlife objectives are met; Support ministerial decision making on EA project reviews; and Reduce ministry staff time allocation in EA reviews. B. CONTENT OF TECHNICAL GUIDELINES In general the MELP EA guidelines will address: Information on relevant legislation, policy, and permitting requirements. Information requirements for baseline monitoring and methodologies for data collection and reporting. Identification of potential impacts. Identification of mitigation options. Reference documents. C. APPLICATION OF GUIDELINES The guidelines are approved by the Ministry Executive. They are intended to be flexible so that MELP staff may consider alternatives relevant to a specific project that is still consistent with the intent of the guidelines. It is also expected that as new scientific information and experience is gained that the guidelines will be modified to reflect this new information. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 6

7 II. LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK A. THE BCEAA PROCESS The BCEAA became law on June 30, It built on many years of experience with review processes that the Ministry participated in for energy, mines, and other major project proposals. The purpose of the Act is to: 1. Promote sustainability by protecting the environment and fostering a sound economy and social well-being. 2. To provide for the thorough, timely, and integrated assessment of environmental, social, cultural, heritage, and health effects of reviewable projects. 3. To prevent or mitigate adverse effects of reviewable projects. 4. To provide for an open, accountable, and neutrally administered process for the assessment. The Act contains a considerable amount of detail on how the EA process must be carried out. Requirements are described for: The types and sizes of projects that must go through the review process. The stages of a review. Information that must be provided. Who must be involved and the methods for involvement. Time limits for completing certain activities. The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) is a neutral agency that administers BCEAA. The EAO is not part of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. The Guide to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Review Process ( the Guide ), available from the Environmental Assessment Office or online at provides a complete description of the Act and the process, along with copies of the legislation and regulations. There are also numerous other review processes for projects that are not reviewed under BCEAA, through permitting, referrals, licencing and approvals. These other processes also require assessments, to varying degrees, and public and First Nations consultation. These guidelines may be applied in these other review processes to projects that have a potential for wildlife/wildlife habitat impacts. A short description of the key features of the Act and the relationship to Ministry guidelines follows. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 7

8 1. PROJECT REVIEW THRESHOLDS The Reviewable Projects Regulation lists the types and sizes of projects that must go through the EA review process. The regulation covers major new projects as well as major expansions or modifications of existing projects. Whether a project is reviewable or not is at times difficult to determine, as there are a number of interpretations of the regulation and associated legislation required to make a final determination. Usually the proponent approaches the EAO for a determination, or a government agency (local, provincial or federal) may be contacted and they may make the inquiry. The EAO contacts MELP and the responsible ministry (e.g. Energy & Mines) to discuss and verify any interpretation of that agency s legislation. For example, definitions (e.g. of a stream under the Water Act) are often in pieces of legislation that are not the EA Act. Or industries may fall under an SIC code that is not clearly in or out of review until it s investigated (e.g. a gelatin plant). In some cases, the EAO seeks legal counsel on an interpretation. Once an interpretation is made, a letter goes out indicating the section of the regulation and interpretation on reviewability. There is also a provision in Section 4 of the Act for the Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks to designate any other project as reviewable under the Act if there is expected to be significant adverse impact and it is in the public interest. Any person or agency can request a project be included in a Section 4 designation, although this section is little used. To date, there have been 18 requests to consider using Section 4 to designate a project for review under the Act. All but two of these requests were denied Bamberton town development and addition of a fourth lane on Lions Gate Bridge (project did not proceed). The review, once designated, proceeds in the same staged fashion as all other reviewable projects. The limited use of Section 4 reflects the government s commitment to use the power sparingly, to avoid undermining the certainty provided by the Reviewable Projects Regulation. Under current government policy, Section 4 designation is interpreted as being in the public interest only where there are significant impact concerns that fall outside the scope of the existing regulatory regime. Section 40 of the Act also allows for reviews of a category of projects. There has been only one review under this section to date, the Salmon Aquaculture Review. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 8

9 2. STAGES OF PROJECT REVIEW The most fundamental characteristic of the BC process, similar to EA processes in many other jurisdictions, is a staged sequence. The process moves from an application stage (stage 1), and may move to a project report (stage 2). The Act also provides for a third stage, a public hearing, although this stage has never been invoked. Not all stages are necessarily required; a project decision can be made at the end of any of these stages. a) PRE-APPLICATION The original intent of the Act was that most projects would go to the second stage of review to address issues in more detail than the application would contain. Experience with the Act has resulted in more project proponents undertaking intensive preapplication studies and consultation to attempt to complete their review in the application stage. Ministry advice on studies to undertake, methods to use, and processes to follow is frequently sought at this juncture, although there is no formal process in the Act for preapplication work. The intent of the guidelines is to assist potential project proponents in an early identification of information requirements for the preparation of a project application. b) APPLICATION REVIEW The formal review of the application requires that a project committee be struck which may include federal, provincial, local, regional and First Nations government representatives. The proponent s program of consultation is assessed for whether it is adequate. A public review period is set where comments can be submitted, and project committee agencies (including First Nations) provide detailed comments on the application. Ministry staff s reviewing the application refers to guidelines and previous practices on EA reviews to assist them in providing their comments on the application. The proponent either addresses the comments to the satisfaction of the project committee, with subsequent approval by two Ministers (Environment, Lands and Parks and a responsible minister) or is sent the next stage of review or the project is rejected. c) PROJECT REPORT SPECIFICATIONS If the project proceeds to Stage 2, the project committee (including First Nations) provides legally binding requirements for additional information or commitments by the proponent ( project report specifications ) that address the deficiencies noted in the project application. The guidelines should assist MELP staff in developing project report specifications for additional information requirements and/or commitments for mitigation measures and monitoring requirements. The public and the project committee review these specifications in draft form before they are finalized. The proponent then completes the remaining studies and prepares a project report. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 9

10 d) PROJECT REPORT The project committee (including First Nations) reviews the proponents project report based on the requirements of the project report specifications. Once the project report is screened and accepted for review, it is reviewed by the Project Committee for its adequacy in meeting the requirements of the project report specifications, and whether it resolves the issues to the satisfaction of the relevant agency on the Project Committee. e) PUBLIC HEARING If there remain significant outstanding issues, a public hearing may be called. The detailed process for hearings is outlined in the Act but has not been used to date. 3. TIMELINES BCEAA sets legislated timelines for each step of the review. It places limits on the length of time to establish a project committee, and how long the project committee has to consider the project before a recommendation is to be made. It also sets the length of public comment periods. The minimum and maximum time limits for each legislated stage for project committee review and decision-making (note: proponents do not have time limits) are as follows: Stage 1: months Stage 2: Project Report Specifications: 1.5 to 2.5 months Project Report Review: 6 to 8 months Stage 3: 6 to 12 months 4. CONSULTATION BCEAA sets out requirements for the information distribution or consultation by the proponent, for preparation of the application. 5. LINKS TO OTHER PROCESSES The EA review is at a strategic level, that is, the emphasis is always on what is really a significant issue, i.e. identifying and determining if impacts have been addressed and/or are mitigable. Significant is taken to mean that: There are no other processes for approval that could provide suitable assessment of this issue (e.g. post-certification approvals do not exist). There are concerns from other levels of government or multi-agency concerns about this issue. The issue reflects a high degree of public concern. Detailed project design and plans are dealt with, on the whole, during the permitting process and are not addressed during the EA project review. BCEAA projects are reviewed on a conceptual level, not the detailed level of review normally expected in Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 10

11 permitting, the exception being where concurrent permitting is requested in the EA review. The existing policy and land use plan regime, such as LRMPs, guide the EA review. B. FEDERAL LEGISLATION 1. CEAA REVIEW The purposes of this federal Act are: To ensure that the environmental effects of projects receive careful consideration before responsible authorities take actions in connection with them; To encourage responsible authorities to take actions that promote sustainable development and thereby achieve or maintain a healthy environment and a healthy economy; To ensure that responsible authorities carry out their responsibilities in a coordinated manner with a view to eliminating unnecessary duplication in the environmental assessment process; To ensure that projects that are to be carried out on federal lands do not cause significant adverse environmental effects outside the jurisdictions in which the projects are carried out; and To ensure that there be an opportunity for public participation in the environmental assessment process. The Canadian process is also a staged review process. A CEAA review is triggered when the federal government is a proponent, or for other projects where there is a regulatory approval required from the federal government (Law List), federal financial support or federal interest in the land where the project is situated. There are some projects that require a review under CEAA because they are listed under a regulation (Comprehensive Study List) that requires a major assessment, called a comprehensive study. A mediation or a review panel can also be invoked. Most assessments are done at what is called a screening level. Every level of assessment (screening, comprehensive study, mediation or review panel) requires that effects be assessed, including cumulative effects, potential accidents and malfunctions, and alternatives to the project. The definition of effects to be assessed includes socioeconomic conditions, physical and cultural heritage, the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal persons, or effects on any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance. The federal and BC government have a Harmonization Agreement, to coordinate their reviews where both at BCEAA review and a CEAA review are triggered. In that case, the BC review process is used, which is designed to meet both federal and provincial Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 11

12 requirements. The federal government, in these cases, delegates its EA process responsibilities, but not its decision-making. What this means is that the approval by the federal responsible minister is still required in addition to the two provincial ministers approval under BCEAA. Further information on the CEAA is available from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Office ( 2. PROPOSED SPECIES AT RISK ACT (SARA) In October 1996, wildlife ministers from across the country agreed in principle to the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. This Accord, of which British Columbia is signatory, outlines commitments on behalf of provincial, territorial and federal governments, to designate species at risk, protect their habitats and develop recovery plans. The federal Minister of Environment reintroduced the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to the House of Commons on February 2, SARA fulfills part of the Government of Canada's responsibility under the Accord. The proposed Species at Risk Act covers nationally listed endangered and threatened species, and species of special concern, as determined by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC, SARA will prohibit the killing, harming, harassing, capturing or taking of species officially listed as threatened, endangered or extirpated, and the destruction of their residences. There will also be a mandatory requirement for developing recovery plans for endangered or threatened species, and management plans for species of special concern. The two-part recovery plan consists of 1) a recovery strategy (goals and objectives), and 2) one or more actions plans to designed to achieve recovery objectives. Among other things, recovery strategies and action plans will identify the critical habitat of threatened or endangered species that needs protection. There are already a number of recovery activities under way in Canada under the Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW) program launched in 1988, and these will be incorporated into the SARA recovery process. RENEW initiatives active in British Columbia in 2001 include recovery planning for the Vancouver Island Marmot, Wood Bison, Burrowing Owl, Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Leopard Frog, Oregon Spotted Frog, and the South Okanagan Ecosystem. Under SARA, conservation actions by landowners and land users to protect critical habitat of species at risk will be encouraged and funded through the Habitat Stewardship Program. Under this program, non-federal agencies, organizations, businesses, communities or individuals are eligible to receive funding. Activities that are eligible for funding under the program focus on stewardship initiatives for the recovery of species at Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 12

13 risk and the prevention of biodiversity loss on private lands, provincial crown lands, Aboriginal lands and in aquatic and marine areas. When not protected by the provinces or territories, the federal Minister will have the authority to recommend to the Governor-in-Council an order to prohibit the destruction of any designated critical habitat of a threatened or endangered species on non-federal land. SARA will enable compensation to be paid to individuals, organizations, Aboriginal peoples, or businesses for losses suffered as a result of any extraordinary or unfair impact when it is necessary to prohibit destruction of critical habitat. A public registry, maintained by the Canadian Wildlife Service, will be established under SARA as the main source of information related to the proposed Act ( C. MELP and BCEAA MELP is a key agency on the project committee. The term key is used to indicate that sign-off on the recommendations is informally considered to be a necessary condition of approval, although this isn t specified in the Act. The Ministry s active participation is recognized as needed to: Bring valuable environmental information to the table. Ensure that the ministry s mandate is fulfilled in the development of a major project. Achieve the ministry s goals and objectives. MELP s EA unit provides Ministry representation ( the project review manager ) on project committees. There is only one active member for the Ministry on the project committee (this is similar to several other ministry s approach) - and this member coordinates and presents all ministry input to the project committee. The Ministry typically also provides a number of technical advisors on each EA review. Members of the technical review team have duties ranging from reviewing or coordinating technical reviews of the application and project report to attending public meetings and project committee meetings. 1. COORDINATION WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES Federal agencies, when there is a CEAA trigger, may provide similar comments to provincial agencies on the same matters. Generally, there is a good degree of cooperation between provincial and federal departments in presenting comments and how the common issues should be resolved. Ministry guidelines are useful in discussions with federal agencies, as the guidelines provide a basis for resolving common issues about study methodologies and mitigation measures. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 13

14 2. PROJECT APPROVAL CERTIFICATE CONDITIONS AND COMPLIANCE REVIEW A Project Approval Certificate is subject to specific measures or steps outlined in the conditions of the certificate, which are legally binding. Proponents must abide by the certificate conditions in order to maintain the certificate. Conditions may relate to preconstruction activities, construction, operation, modification, dismantling or abandonment of the facilities constructed. The mitigation measures outlined in these guidelines should assist the ministry in determining appropriate conditions for the Project Approval Certificate for different project types. During the final stages of the BCEAA review, a Compliance Review Tracking Document is prepared under the auspices of the EAO. This document lists all certificate conditions and those proponent commitments identified in the recommendations report and other correspondence agreed upon by relevant government agencies and the proponent. The conditions listed in the tracking document will be those which the EAO will require verification of compliance. MELP will undertake a compliance review of certificate conditions and proponent commitments which fall under the ministry s mandate and which have been agreed upon at the certification stage. The scope of compliance review will be contingent on the ministry s environmental risk assessment of the project. Compliance review activities will be initiated upon project start-up and continue until the ministry is satisfied that all conditions are considered to have been met. The ministry s compliance information will be utilized by the EAO in the conduct of their EA compliance review, which will typically be initiated at the completion of construction. 3. PERMITTING Reviewable projects must obtain both EA approval (Project Approval Certificate) as well as any necessary statutory approvals, permits and licenses from individual regulatory agencies. During the EA review, the EAO s responsibility is to ensure that information and consultation requirements for necessary permit approvals are identified during the EA review, to the greatest extent possible. Key information on required permits is prepared during the EA review and regulatory agencies are expected to provide permitting information within the EA process. No statutory approvals, permits and licenses can be issued until the issuance of the Project Approval Certificate. Statutory approvals, permits and licenses are not subject to the EA compliance review and are the responsibility of the individual regulatory agency to track. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 14

15 Separate consultation is required for the EA review process and for permit issuance. However, for concurrent reviews, the public may be notified of applications through advertisements or other notification measures that are a routine part of the regulatory procedures for processing specific permits. There may be an overlap between the conditions in the PAC and the conditions within the statutory approvals, permits and licenses. 4. CONCURRENT REVIEWS Proponents have the option to request that the EA review be conducted concurrently with the review of applications for other statutory approvals, i.e. water licenses. BCEAA establishes a specific process for concurrent reviews. Optional concurrent reviews can result in timelier permit issuance where the proponent s plans are sufficiently well developed. However, proponents are encouraged to contact permitting agencies to clarify information requirements and the level of detailed required before requesting a concurrent review. A request for concurrent reviews can be made anytime after the acceptance of an application for review but no later than the date of submission of the project report. Requests for concurrent reviews and the supporting documentation are placed on the EAO Project Registry. Within 70 days after the conclusion of the project report review period (or earlier if the concurrent review is completed) the regulatory authorities must inform the project committee and the proponent that, following certification, the specific permits requested: Will be issued within 30 days of certification; Will be refused; or The decision will be postponed with written reasons for the postponement. An indication of when a decision will be forthcoming will be provided. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 15

16 III. PROVINCIAL LEGISLATION The purpose of this section is to discuss the various provincial environmental statutes administered by or in part by MELP that are directly relevant to the assessment of project impacts on terrestrial wildlife and its habitat. Relevant environmental statutes are discussed and a list of regulatory permits, licenses and approvals issued by MELP under those enactments follows. Readers requiring additional information should refer to the appropriate statute in full text for complete requirements under that statute. A. BC WILDLIFE ACT The primary legislation directly affecting species protection in the province is the BC Wildlife Act R.S. 1996, c.488. The Act guides the management of wildlife in British Columbia to maintain the diversity and abundance of native species and habitats throughout the province, to provide a variety of opportunities for the use and enjoyment of wildlife, and to reach a balance between meeting the needs of wildlife and the needs of people. The Act vests ownership of all wildlife in the province with the provincial Crown. The Wildlife Act grants the Minister of Environment, Land and Parks broad powers to manage and protect wildlife, including the power to: Designate land as a wildlife management area (WMA), pursuant to sec. 4; Designate land in a WMA as a critical wildlife area if required as habitat for an endangered or threatened species, pursuant to sec. 5; Designate species as endangered or threatened, pursuant to sec. 6; and Bring an action for damages against a person who destroys or damages wildlife habitat, pursuant to sec. 8. Wildlife species are protected under the Wildlife Act primarily through the enforcement of offences including: Damaging wildlife habitat in a WMA, pursuant to sec. 7; Damaging beaver or muskrat houses, dens or dams, pursuant to sec. 9; Hunting, killing or wounding a threatened or endangered species, pursuant to sec. 26(1); and Possessing, taking, injuring, molesting or destroying a bird or its nest, pursuant to sec. 34. The Act establishes procedures for issuing licences for hunting, firearm possession and angling within the province. Certain provisions place limits on how hunting, trapping, Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 16

17 guiding and angling can be conducted (e.g., sec. 30). The Act provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Cabinet) the authority to make regulations to limit hunting for any particular wildlife species. The Wildlife Act Permit Regulation provides for the exercise of specific activities under the Wildlife Act, or an exemption from the requirement to comply with certain regulations. Two basic types of permits may be granted an authorization permit and an exemption permit. Examples of activities requiring authorization under these permits are noted in Table 1. The appropriate regional office normally issues permits. Most permits apply for limited periods of time, usually not more than five years. Table 1. Examples of activities requiring authorization under permits issued under the Wildlife Act Permit Regulation 1 An authorization permit is required to engage in any of the following selected activities. Capturing, possessing or importing live wildlife Possessing dead wildlife or wildlife parts Transporting or exporting wildlife or parts Rehabilitating injured wildlife Trapping, hunting or killing wildlife for any of the following reasons: population control, scientific research, crop protection, public safety, or ceremonial, educational or humane purposes Hunting big game with a non-resident of British Columbia Possessing or distributing game meat for sustenance An exemption permit is required to engage in any of the following selected activities. Destroying particular types of bird nests or eggs Destroying beaver dams or muskrat dens Discharging firearms in a no-shooting or restricted area, from a vehicle or powerboat Operating a vehicle in an area that is closed under the Wildlife Act The Wildlife Branch of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks prepares lists of endangered, vulnerable and management species respectively, the Red, Blue and Yellow Lists to help prioritize conservation activities and assist in wildlife management. The British Columbia Conservation Data Centre (CDC) of the Resource Inventory Branch tracks the global and provincial rarity ranks (respectively, the status of the species throughout its entire range and the species status in British Columbia), and provincial list status (i.e., Red List, Blue List, Yellow List) of wildlife species. The CDC also tracks vascular plant species, selected non-vascular plant groups, plant communities, 1 These lists are not inclusive; refer to the Wildlife Act Permit Regulation for additional information. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 17

18 invertebrates and fish, which are included as required on Red and Blue Lists of endangered and vulnerable species. When the Wildlife Branch adds wildlife species to the Red List, it becomes a candidate for legal designation as an endangered species under sec. 6 of the Wildlife Act. Only four species are designated currently under the provincial Act the Vancouver Island Marmot, the Sea Otter, the Burrowing Owl and the American White Pelican 2. These species were all designated in The other provincial enactment with application to endangered species, though to a limited extent, is the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. Terrestrial plant species are not included in the definition of species used in the Wildlife Act, and therefore are not protected under the Act. Also, terrestrial plant species cannot be designated as endangered or threatened under the Act (sec. 6). Recently, the provincial government was provided the power to designate fish, aquatic invertebrates and aquatic plants as endangered and threatened species pursuant to the BC Fish Protection Act. The Wildlife Branch of MELP has a limited mandate over the land base upon which wildlife resources depend. For example, MELP has direct jurisdiction over wildlife habitat only: on land acquired by MELP for wildlife protection under sec. 3 of the Wildlife Act (often with other agencies such as the federal Canadian Wildlife Service, a municipality or a non-governmental organization); wildlife management areas designated under sec. 4 of the Wildlife Act; or in ecological reserves designated under sec. 2 and 3 of the BC Ecological Reserve Act. Protection of critical wildlife habitat under sec. 5(1) of the Wildlife Act has been established only once, for the Vancouver Island marmot. Most of the wildlife habitat in the province is administered by other government agencies such as the Ministry of Forests. MELP administers a number of programs and initiatives within the province that include some form of wildlife or wildlife habitat protection relevant to the purpose of these guidelines. The Protected Areas Strategy is MELP s primary tool for conserving wildlife habitat. One of the Strategy s goals is to preserve a target amount of 12 per cent of the area of each of British Columbia s 14 biogeoclimatic zones. B. BC PARK ACT The Park Act R.S. 1996, c.344 is the primary legal mechanism used by the provincial government to establish protected areas. However, typically parks are neither chosen on the basis of their importance as habitat for species at risk, nor are protection of habitat the primary management consideration in many provincial parks. 2 The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists nationally endangered species, including species that occur in British Columbia such as the Spotted Owl, the Anatum Peregrine Falcon and the Leatherback Turtle. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 18

19 The Park Act is subject to the BCEAA, but most projects or actions occurring in provincial parks will not meet the criteria that define renewable projects under that act. C. BC ECOLOGICAL RESERVE ACT Protected areas can be legally designed in British Columbia under the Ecological Reserve Act R.S. 1996, c Reserves are found in all of the province s 14 biogeoclimatic zones. Terrestrial wildlife protected in reserves includes seabird colonies, eagles, falcons and sandhill cranes. Reserves have been established for important and threatened plant and tree species such as wildflower stands, stands of Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce, Garry oaks and Arbutus. The Ecological Reserve Act is subject to the BCEAA, but most projects or actions occurring in provincial ecological reserves will not meet the criteria that define renewable projects under that act. BC Environment does not issue regulatory permits, licences or approvals under this act. D. BC FISH PROTECTION ACT The Fish Protection Act S.B.C. 1997, c.21 focuses on four major objectives: ensuring sufficient water for fish; protecting and restoring fish habitat; improving riparian protection and enhancement; and providing for stronger local government decisionmaking in environmental planning. A key provision of the Act includes the prohibition on new dams on specific provincially significant rivers (defined in the Act as protected rivers ) (sec. 4). Also, the Act prohibits the introduction of debris (defined as (a) clay, silt, sand rock or similar material, or (b) any material, natural or otherwise, from construction or demolition) that causes harm to fish or fish habitat, or the diversion and use of water or the operation of works authorized under the BC Water Act. The Fish Protection Act provides the provincial government the power to designate fish, aquatic invertebrates and aquatic plants as endangered and threatened species. The new Streamside Protection Regulation under the Act incorporates consideration of potential impacts on fish and fish habitat in water allocation decisions or approvals for changes in or about a stream (Part 7, Water Regulation of the Water Act). The regulation applies only to new or redeveloped industrial, commercial and residential developments that take place beside urban streams that have the potential for fish habitat. It does not apply to agriculture, mining, hydroelectric facilities or forestry activities. The initiative provides a pro-active, planning approach providing preventive measures before impacts to fish and fish habitat occur. The legislation compliments the federal Fisheries Act, Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 19

20 under which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can prosecute only after fish habitat has been damaged. The regulation compliments and strengthens existing legislation to ensure adequate protection of water quality and production of natural riparian areas for wildlife habitat. MELP does not issue regulatory permits, licences or approvals under this act. E. FOREST PRACTICES CODE The Forest Practices Code of British Columbia R.S. 1996, c.158 (Code) was brought into effect to improve forest practices in B.C, including the prevention of detrimental environmental impacts from logging. It contains some provisions addressing provincial endangered species, wildlife and biodiversity. For example, provisions enable wildlife habitat areas to be established for Identified Wildlife (defined in the Code as species or plant communities requiring special forest practices to be applied where forest activities are planned). Other mechanisms to manage Identified Wildlife under the Code are general wildlife measures and higher level plan recommendations. The Identified Wildlife Management Strategy is a component of the Code. Its goal is to preserve elements of biodiversity that are not addressed in other parts of the Code such as threatened and endangered species and plant communities. The Operational Planning Regulations under the Code use the provincial Red and Blue Lists in the development of the Identified Wildlife Species List. The strategy details the procedures and management practices that are mandatory for Identified Wildlife under the Code. Compliance to the strategy is the responsibility of the Conservation Officers of MELP and the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Forests. In general, the Code is limited in scope in addressing wildlife and wildlife habitat in several ways. Firstly, it applies only to Crown land. Secondly, it related only to forestry activities. Potential impacts to wildlife or wildlife diversity from activities unrelated to forestry, including hydroelectricity, urban development, and agriculture are not covered under the Code. Thirdly, provisions implemented under the Code are subject to an overall ceiling of 6 per cent impact on the current rate of cut. In addition, there are impact ceilings for specific provisions. For example, 1 per cent (of the 6 per cent) is allocated for Identified Wildlife provisions. MELP does not issue regulatory permits, licences or approvals under the Code. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 20

21 F. PERMITS, LICENCES AND APPROVALS NORMALLY REQUIRED The following list identifies the regulatory permits, licences and approvals issued by MELP under the Wildlife Act, the Park Act and the Ecological Reserves Act that are normally required for reviewable projects. The statutory requirements included in the list are applicable directly or indirectly to terrestrial wildlife and/or wildlife habitat. Each requirement may be applicable to any category of reviewable project industrial, mine, energy, water management, waste disposal, aquaculture and food processing, transportation, tourism and recreation depending on the characteristics of the specific project. The type of authorization required (permit, licence or approval), effecting provision, agency responsible for issuing the authorization, description of permit, and information requirements are identified. The list is not inclusive for all projects. For example, non-statutory impact mitigation / compensation requirements and referrals are not included. 1. AUTHORIZATIONS PURSUANT TO THE WILDLIFE ACT a. Alter or Damage a Wildlife Management Area Permit Title: Permit to Alter or Damage a Wildlife Management Area Statutory Reference: s. 7 of the Wildlife Act Issuing Agency: Habitat Protection Section, Regional Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The regional manager may issue a permit to authorize a person to alter, destroy or damage habitat or deposit a substance, manufactured product or by-product on land or in water, that is deleterious to wildlife or wildlife habitat in a wildlife management area. Permits may include special conditions. An application for a permit can be filed usually at the regional office Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, or MELP Victoria office, if applicable. b. Disturb a Muskrat or Beaver House, Den or Dam Permit Title: Exemption Permit to Disturb a Muskrat or Beaver House, Den or Dam Statutory Reference: s. 9 of the Wildlife Act and Wildlife Act Permit Regulation Issuing Agency: Habitat Protection Section, Regional Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The regional manager may issue a permit to authorize a person to disturb, molest or destroy (i) a muskrat house or den, except on diked land, or (ii) a beaver house or den or beaver dam, except if the action is Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 21

22 taken to provide irrigation or drainage for the protection of property. Permits may include special conditions. An application for a permit can be filed usually at the regional office Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, or MELP Victoria office, if applicable. The regional office may be able to provide guidance with regard to contacting registered trappers to undertake relocation or removal of muskrats or beavers, and the associated process requirements (an authorization permit issued under the Wildlife Act Permit Regulation to capture and transport wildlife may be required). c. Possess or Import Live Wildlife or Eggs Permit Title: Authorization Permit to Possess or Import Live Wildlife or Eggs Statutory Reference: s. 21(1), Wildlife Act and Wildlife Act Permit Regulation Issuing Agency: Habitat Protection Section, Regional Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The regional manager may issue a permit to authorize a person to possess or import into British Columbia live wildlife or the egg of a wildlife species. An application for a permit can be filed usually at the regional office Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, or MELP Victoria office, if applicable. Conditions of this permit may be included in the Project Certificate issued under the Environmental Assessment Act. Example of activities requiring an authorization permit for the purpose of possessing or importing live wildlife are the use (i.e., pack animals) or display (i.e., petting zoo) of animals for recreational activities at a resort. d. Capture Live Wildlife Permit Title: Authorization Permit to Capture Live Wildlife Statutory Reference: sec. 29, Wildlife Act and Wildlife Act Permit Regulation Issuing Agency: Habitat Protection Section, Regional Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The regional manager may issue a permit with whatever conditions, may authorize a person to capture live wildlife (sec. 29, Wildlife Act), or hunt, trap or kill wildlife during the open or closed season for scientific purposes (Wildlife Act Permit Regulation). An application for a permit can be filed usually at the regional office Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, or MELP Victoria office, if applicable. Conditions of this permit may be included in the Project Certificate issued under the BCEAA. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 22

23 Examples of activities requiring a Capture Permit are capturing of a specific species for radio-telemetry studies or removal. e. Disturb a Bird or its Nest Permit Title: An Exemption Permit to Disturb a Bird or its Nest Statutory Reference: s. 34 of the Wildlife Act and Wildlife Act Permit Regulation Issuing Agency: Habitat Protection Section, Regional Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The regional manager may issue a permit to authorize a person to possess, take, injure, molest or destroy (a) a bird or its nest, (b) the nest of an eagle, peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, osprey, heron or burrowing owl, or (3) the nest of a bird not referred to in paragraph (b) when the nest is occupied by a bird or its egg. Permits may include special conditions. An application for a permit can be filed usually at the regional office Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, or MELP Victoria office, if applicable. 2. AUTHORIZATIONS PURSUANT TO THE PARK ACT a. Park Use / Resource Use Permit Title: Park Use Permit / Resource Use Licence Statutory Reference: s. 20(1), Park Act Issuing Agency: Parks [and Ecological Reserves] District Office, MELP Description of Permit and Information Requirements: The Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks may issue a park use permit or a resource use licence authorizing, on the terms and conditions specified, a person or persons to do any one or more things for which, under the Act, a permit or licence is required. The person to whom the permit is issued must make a written application. The application must be accompanied by an undertaking in writing, executed by the person to whom the permit is issued, to pay to the government certain costs and permit fees. A restoration deposit may also be required. Activities requiring a Park Use Permit are any that use, occupy, or cause development, exploitation or extraction of a natural resource on or in a park. Activities requiring a Resource Use Licence are any that occupy, use, or cause development, exploitation or extraction of a natural resource on or in a recreation area. Osiris Wildlife Consulting May 2001 Page 23

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