Featured Project Work

Black Spruce Forest
Extent and Ecological Significance of Late Seral Stage Black Spruce Forest on a First Nation Reserve

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Project: Extent and Ecological Significance of Late Seral Stage Black Spruce Forest on a First Nation Reserve

Background: The client, in partnership with the First Nation and Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC), requested that Gen7 design and implement an assessment to ensure minimal loss and impacts to a late seral stage black spruce forest (also a treed fen) on the First Nation Reserve due to a proposed wellsite and associated access road.

Hydrological and Biological Monitoring
Wetland Road Design and Hydrological and Biological Monitoring Program

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Project: Wetland Road Design and Hydrological and Biological Monitoring Program

Background: A client proposed a wellsite and access road on a peatland in a First Nation Reserve. The client, in partnership with the First Nation and Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC), requested that Gen7 provide design recommendations for a low impact road across a treed fen, and implement a long term monitoring program to assess and mitigate any impacts observed as a result of the development.

Foothills Pipeline Project
40km Pipeline Assessments and Approvals

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Project: Foothills 40 km Pipeline Environmental Assessments and Approvals

Background: A client proposed 40 km of new pipeline within the foothills of Alberta’s Green Zone with three associated riser sites. The client requested that Gen7 conduct field assessments of the length of pipeline, provide recommendations regarding pipeline route and installation method to minimize potential environmental impacts, as well as discuss regulatory approvals considerations.

Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area
Wetlands and ATV Trail Enhancement Project

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Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area (Blue Rapids) is located along both sides of the North Saskatchewan River just outside of Drayton Valley, Alberta, and covers an area of 36.4 km2. It is a unique Provincial Recreation Area, established under the Provincial Parks Act, in that it has a high concentration of industrial dispositions and activities going on within its boundaries, and is also home to an extensive unmanaged off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system. Almost the entire OHV trail system is located on existing, operating industrial dispositions that pre-dated the establishment of Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area.

These OHV trails traverse many wetland and watercourse features in the riparian ecosystem of the North Saskatchewan River, and their unmanaged use has resulted in vegetation loss, rutting, erosion, compaction and sedimentation of these features. It is not appropriate, however, to simply prohibit further access to the area by OHV recreators who have been enjoying these public lands for decades in order to reduce ecological impacts.

To help address this challenge, the Eagle Point – Blue Rapids Parks Council, working Gen7 Environmental Solutions, a local environmental services business, and the University of Alberta, secured approximately $345,000 in 2016 from Environment Canada and Alberta Environment and Parks to complete wetland enhancement activities along an unmanaged off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail system in Blue Rapids Provincial Recreation Area.  With some additional funds and in-kind contributions, valued at more than $300,000, from local businesses and the University of Alberta, the project budget is approximately $700,000.

The majority of the secured funds are allocated for on-the-ground enhancement activities, and the remainder is to be utilized to: facilitate a shared access agreement between industry and Alberta Parks that allows multiple disturbance activities to share the same footprint;  a University of Alberta Masters student thesis project focusing on the re-vegetation of the disturbed sites, and; the establishment of a long-term monitoring program for vegetation growth, water quality, and wildlife use of the wetlands. Another essential component of this project is an outreach and environmental education program that highlights the project in enhancing wetlands in the area, and encourages the public to practice responsible recreation on the trail system.

This three year project will enhance the degraded wetlands by:

    • Preventing further vehicular access to a number of disturbed wetlands;
    • Restoring original microtopography and implement interim erosion control at many disturbed wetlands areas,
    • Establishing lost vegetation at each disturbed wetland through University of Alberta Masters Thesis Project focused on propagation and planting at these sites;
    • Constructing wetland crossing structures at several locations to avoid direct access of vehicles to wetlands and watercourses;
    • Conducting maintenance on existing trails to eliminate ruts that create hazardous amphibian habitat;
    • Evaluating the success of enhancement activities with an ongoing monitoring program; and
    • Developing and implementing an outreach and environmental education program to engage and inform the community, especially local youth.

Gen7’s role in this project has been:

    • Conducting a reconnaissance assessment of existing trails, including identifying areas requiring enhancement, and prioritizing these areas according to the perceived severity of impacts, the budget, and areas deemed most essential to a complete trail system;
    • Development of a detailed enhancement plan for the trails and wetlands, including cost estimates per site;
    • Identification and obtaining of all permissions and regulatory approvals for work;
    • Implementation of the on-the-ground enhancement activities, including:
        • Installing access control to prevent further vehicular access to multiple wetlands and specific watercourse locations to discourage further damage at these sites; trails will instead be routed to enhanced crossing locations (preferably where ATVs do not ford through lentic or lotic ecosystems);
        • Constructing wetland crossing structures at multiple locations to avoid direct access of vehicles to wetlands;
            • Working with local engineering firm to design bridges specifically for ATV recreational use to reduce the impacts on watercourses and wetlands. The bridge design will be used as a prototype for ATV bridges by Alberta Parks going forward.
        • Eliminating large ruts and taking measures to reduce their future creation; as a result, reducing loss/sedimentation of adjacent wetlands and eliminating hazardous amphibian habitat;
        • In partnership the University of Alberta, re-establish lost vegetation through a propagation and planting program with the University of Alberta including a Masters Student focused on the challenge;
    • Evaluate the success of enhancement activities with an ongoing monitoring program, also in partnership with the University of Alberta.