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Jonathan Thompson , Corey De La Mare , Shanon Leggo
In 2013, the province of Alberta released a new Wetland Policy that provided the opportunity to use wetland reclamation as an approach to compensate for natural wetland loss associated with surface mining activities. For new surface mining activities approved after implementation of the policy in the Settled Area of the province (1 June 2015), there was an expectation to provide wetland replacement for all permanent wetland impacts that could not be avoided or minimized. While a variety of replacement options were made available, some mining operations decided to develop reclaimed wetlands as part of their overall reclamation requirements under the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). This presentation describes the development of the Wetland Compensation Plan for Highvale Mine, a coal mine in central Alberta, as a requirement under its Water Act Approval and development of the associated Wetland Reclamation Monitoring Program required under its updated EPEA Approval. Wetland reclamation at this Boreal Transition Zone location has focused on creation of graminoid marshes and shallow open water wetlands, which are the predominant natural wetland types impacted by this mine. Annual monitoring of reclaimed and nearby reference (i.e., natural) wetlands began in 2018 to determine if a variety of wetland functions (e.g., floristic quality, vegetation biomass, water quality and wildlife habitat) in reclaimed wetlands are on a trajectory to approximate the same functions measured in reference wetlands. Initial results over the past two years show a promising trend that wetland reclamation can be a viable wetland replacement option.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program