Aquatic habitat mapping of the AOSERP Study Area (1978): Assessment and recommendations

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  • During 1978, a number of aquatic projects were funded by Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) using a habitat inventory and mapping approach. Initially, preliminary recommendations were sought for the mapping of aquatic habitat parameters for the AOSERP study area. A data gathering method and map preparation procedure was recommended closely following procedures developed by the Resource Analysis Branch (RAB) of the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. Initial field work using such an inventory procedure was carried out by biologists from the Freshwater Institute (FWI), Winnipeg, Aquatic Environments Limited (AEL), Calgary, and Renewable Resources Consulting Services Limited (RRCS), Edmonton, in three study locations within the AOSERP study area. Both FWI and AEL carried out the inventory as part of more intensive fisheries investigations whereas the primary thrust of the RRCS investigation was the inventory itself. FWI biologists were responsible for the Muskeg and MacKay rivers, while AEL biologists worked mainly on the Hangingstone and Horse rivers and the portions of the Clearwater and Christina rivers within the AOSERP study area. RRCS biologists studied the lower portions of the Firebag, Marguerite, Ells and Steepbank rivers within the AOSERP study area. In order to acquaint AOSERP contractors with the philosophy and structure of aquatic inventory as conducted by the Resource Analysis Branch, a workshop was held on the 20, 21 September 1978. At this workshop the rapid evolution of the RAB system was discussed and the incompatibility of the Brown et al. recommendations with the present RAB format was highlighted. This report was commissioned by AOSERP in order to review the present status of the RAB system and to recommend a suitable approach for the ongoing AOSERP aquatics inventory program. The objectives of this report are: 1. To assess the work carried out in 1978 for completeness and to determine if this material is compatible with the procedures developed by the RAB; 2. To recommend procedures for adoption by AOSERP to set up an adequate biophysical mapping base including: a. the geographical extent of the study area, b. training of an inventory staff, c. the availability of 1:50,000 NTS base maps and recent aerial photography; and 3. To advise AOSERP of the methods and costs of the RAB aquatic habitat inventor~ procedures. Throughout this report I have assumed that the reader is familiar with the objectives and methods of the RAB aquatic habitat inventory. The reader should also note that a critical review of the various management applications of the RAB is not part of this report.

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