Kinder Morgan had proposed to do work in Moonbeam creek this spring to stop fish from spawning in the area they’ll be working on in the fall. However they’ve reconsidered their plans, and instead plan to do the work earlier in the fall, before the bull trout arrive to start spawning.
Last fall, Kinder Morgan was doing work on creek crossings between Valemount and Blue River, but had to stop work on Moonbeam Creek because adult bull trout were found digging redds in the worksite footprint. Jason Turner, Kinder Morgan’s Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator told the Goat last fall that their environmental plan had identified fish may be present, and they stopped work as planned when they were spotted. Work could not resume until approval was received from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Work on some of the other creeks was to maintain a certain amount of protective cover over the pipeline, but at Moonbeam, the goal was a little different. Turner said a log weir that helps keep the protective cover in place was not allowing fish to pass, so they were planning to rebuild the weir to allow fish passage, as well as continue to protect the pipeline for the long term.
Early in 2014, Kinder Morgan had proposed to place steel grating over the potential spawning habitat immediately downstream from the log weir, which would allow newly hatched fish to emerge this spring, while deterring adult bull trout from spawning in the work area this fall.
In late March, Turner told the Goat they have rethought the grating option, and decided they will be able to do the work by managing the flows in the fall. “We know we can manage it just with getting in there a little earlier this year.”
He says they plan to mobilize to the site on September 3, and even if the waters are still high, they will switch 50 to 60 per cent of the flow over into the diversion channel. Bull trout shouldn’t be there that early, and with the lower water levels because of the diversion channel, they should be able to do the work to the weir. That work has already been approved, and although it will make the gravel immediately below the weir unsuitable for spawning, Turner says “it will open up a whole bunch of spawning habitat above the sill.”
He says it is suspected that bull trout can already get up above this log sill, “but it is the coho spawning habitat that the Simpcw really want to open up.” The Simpcw First Nation have been involved with construction, environmental monitoring and restoration activities along this section of the pipeline.
Kinder Morgan has applied to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline, and the National Energy Board announced on April 2 that their application is complete. Hearing events will begin this month. Of more than 2,100 applications to participate, the NEB says it has decided that 400 will participate as intervenors and 1250 as commenters. The Village of Valemount says it applied jointly with the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and they have been accepted as intervenors.
More information can be found in the NEB’s Hearing Order, on their website.