Since 2012, the environmental team for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project has been out in the field studying a wide range of environmental features, including plants, fish and wildlife. These baseline studies, and subsequent analysis, were used to developed Environmental Protection Plans (EPPs) that must be implemented before, during and after construction along the pipeline right-of-way, facilities and related access areas.

These plans ensure potential effects of the Project on fish, vegetation and wildlife are appropriately mitigated in accordance with relevant guidelines and requirements from regulators such as the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO).

More than 60 EPPs and management plans have been developed and relate to specific aspects of construction, including several management plans that outline required mitigation measures should wildlife be encountered in the Project construction footprint (i.e., right-of-way, including temporary workspaces and extra temporary workspaces, new access roads, temporary lands).

During our field studies, amphibian breeding habits were identified for several species, including the Great Basin Spadefoot, Western Toad, Long-toed Salamander, Columbia Spotted Frog and Pacific Tree Frog. In 2021, Wildlife Resource Specialists and our General Contractors undertook work to salvage and translocate amphibians from the construction footprint. The work included the following:

  • Completing pre-construction surveys to verify breeding ponds and other high-quality amphibian habitats and confirm presence
  • Developing Amphibian Salvage Plans for each potential amphibian feature
  • Implementing exclusion barriers, drift nets and pitfall traps on the terrestrial landscape to capture and translocate amphibians from the construction footprint and prevent them from re-entering during the construction phase
  • Implementing aquadams, seine nets, dip nets and funnel traps in the salvaged amphibian aquatic habitats such as wetlands

In addition to the above, visual encounter surveys (foot searches) were conducted each day during suitable conditions.

Columbia Spotted Frog
Columbia Spotted Frog

Once the amphibians were salvaged, they were then relocated in accordance with the appropriate permit applications and conditions, under the direction of a Wildlife Resource Specialist. Off-site relocation spots were pre-identified to minimize amphibian salvage hold times and stress, as well as to prevent amphibians from re-occupying the Project footprint. In general, three consecutive days with zero catch effort is required to provide amphibian-free clearance status. Alternatively, Wildlife Resource Specialists collected and analyzed salvage data to document depleting amphibian populations (catch-per-unit-effort) from each feature and may be able to provide salvage clearance for amphibian habitat once 90 per cent of the population has been salvaged. Amphibian salvage and relocation will continue throughout the life of the Project.

Exclusion fencing with pitfall traps
Exclusion fencing with pitfall traps

Environmental Protection Plans are among 156 conditions required by the CER and detail the actions required to ensure protection of land, plants, wildlife, fish and the marine environment in all phases of the Project.

Exclusion fencing with pitfall traps
Exclusion fencing with pitfall traps

EPPs also cover community impacts such as traffic, noise, air quality and the socio-economic effects of our Project workforce, particularly in smaller communities along the construction footprint. Trans Mountain’s goal upon completion of the Project is to ensure the land is returned to an equivalent land capability compared to pre-construction status.

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