FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – BC Hydro says that though it isn’t possible to completely hold off from clearing parts of Watson Slough this winter, the vast majority of the area will remain untouched.
The PRRD sent a letter to Hydro asking the Crown Corporation to not conduct clearing operations in Watson Slough, after the Board heard about the possibility of logging in the area at a meeting on January 26th. BC Hydro Communications & Issues Manager Craig Fitzsimmons says that clearing work in the Cache Creek/Bear Flat area, which includes Watson Slough, is taking place this winter and early Spring to prepare for the start of construction to realign Highway 29 later this year. In response to the request by the PRRD, BC Hydro reviewed its clearing plans and determined that it could reduce the number of trees slated to be cleared at this time.
Hydro says that approximately 10 percent of the trees will be cleared at Watson Slough, leaving approximately 90 per cent of the trees in place until the winter before the dam’s reservoir is filled in 2022. BC Hydro said that they were not able to fully accommodate the PRRD’s request due to risks to the construction schedule and the need to create a bird nesting buffer zone around the highway work.
The release goes on to say that no active Bald Eagle nests will be removed during Site C construction. Hydro will only remove or relocate Bald Eagle nests when they are inactive, as confirmed by a qualified professional, and in accordance with their Wildlife Act permit. A buffer zone will be implemented around each active nest where no clearing will be done. In addition, BC Hydro says that it will also install up to 38 artificial nesting platforms during the dam’s construction. Where it is feasible and safe to do so, eagle nests will be removed intact and relocated and installed on nest platforms.