Restoring Forest Roadways to Benefit The Threatened Southern Mountain Caribou

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Rapai, S.R. , Khan, A.K. , Bonderud, E.S., Brinkann, B

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The Caribou Flats roadways lies within the population range boundary of the Chase caribou herd. Federally, the Chase herd is considered part of the Southern Mountain population of caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and listed as threatened on Schedule 1 of the Federal Species At Risk Act. The recovery strategy for Southern Mountain caribou recommends undertaking actions to improve habitats in current ranges by restoring linear features, such as old roads, and making habitat less suitable for other prey species. In collaboration with Tsay Keh Dene Nation, our project team restored the Caribou Flats roadway using functional and ecological restoration techniques. The intent was to make the road less suitable for other prey species, predator travel, and human recreational and hunting use. This road was an ideal candidate for restoration since it provided access from low to high elevation, and was adjacent to a known caribou migration corridor. Functional restoration techniques such as tree felling and hinging, and access control, were employed to reduce line of sight and travel opportunities along the road. The ecological restoration techniques employed included road decompaction, mounding, ripping, and tree planting. Before road restoration work commenced, baseline vegetation and camera-trap data were collected for comparison, during future monitoring work. In the short-term, the functional restoration techniques were expected to both reduce predator line of sight along the road and reduce human use. This reduced use is expected to allow the planted seedlings to establish, and in the long-term, return the road to a mature forest environment.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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