Moon Creek Timber Harvest Plan: Fish and Fish Habitat Risk Overview
March 24, 2023
The 2021 Moon Creek forest harvest plan from West Fraser Mills Ltd. for lands near Grande Cache, Alberta could impact species at risk and the habitat they rely on, including Threatened Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and Endangered Athabasca Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, ARTR).
ARTR were listed as Endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2019. Within the Moon Creek harvest plan area, all streams draining Moon and Fox creeks are listed as containing ARTR critical habitat, which is necessary for the survival and recovery of the species.
Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) contracted with Fintegrate Fisheries & Watershed Consulting Ltd. to assess the Moon Creek harvest plan with respect to ARTR and their critical habitat – to highlight issues and locations of concern where the impacts to ARTR could be greatest.
Based on this assessment, there was no indication that West Fraser’s Moon Creek forest harvest plan was designed to meet any specific protections for ARTR under federal legislation. West Fraser’s plan only provides the provincial standard level of protection, and ARTR need enhanced protection to be conserved and recovered.
It is unclear if, or how, West Fraser has ensured that their proposed cut blocks, roads, and watercourse crossings will not cause harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of critical habitat for ARTR within the Moon Creek and Fox Creek watersheds. The Moon Creek harvest plan cannot receive a SARA permit because riparian and instream ARTR Critical Habitat will be destroyed, which is prohibited under Section 58(1) of SARA.
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