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Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

16. The percentage by

16. The percentage by area of wetland buffers (50, 120 and 240 m width) in the AOC and of core woodland areas (within 100 and 200m of forest edge) in the AOC is not significantly different when compared to suitable non-AOC reference sites. 17. The proximity, patch size, and patch density of key habitat types (forests and wetlands) in the AOC is not significantly different when compared to suitable non- AOC reference sites. 18. The existing areal extent of unique wildlife habitats (Wainfleet Bog complex, Niagara Gorge) is at least 80% secured and managed for longterm conservation purposes. 19. Approval of Official Plan environmental policies for AOC municipalities that protect and enhance the natural heritage system, in conformity with the applicable Provincial or Regional natural heritage policies. 3.3.1 Choosing Reference Site Locations Reference site locations are generally chosen to be representative of average local environmental conditions and have physical characteristics comparable to those of the AOC. Individual reference sites may be chosen for each BUI or for each relevant delisting criterion as per the recommendations of the RAP Science Committee and Coordinating Committee. 3.3.2 Selection of Reference Sites for wildlife indicators Ideally, suitable reference sites for AOCs would be locations just outside (preferably upstream) of the AOCs. The sites would represent similar environments as sampling areas located within the AOC, except for the sources of stressors associated with the AOC (e.g., contaminants, eutrophication, etc). For the wildlife used in the following wildlife assessments, suitable reference sites were not generally available in such close proximity to the Niagara River AOC. Consequently, more distant reference sites had to be selected. Generally, these distant reference sites were selected on the basis of low contaminant burdens, as well as the absence or low levels of other anthropogenic sources of stress. These reference sites would represent an idealized population, whose population status and health parameters should be independent of the effects of contaminants or other stressors present within the AOC. Three different types of wildlife were assessed: colonial waterbirds, mink and snapping turtles. Colonial waterbirds have well defined breeding colonies, whose geographic locations are not necessarily convenient for ideal sampling. Monitoring of herring gulls are largely based upon the 15 colonies that are monitored by the Great Lakes Herring Gull Monitoring Program. Given the lack of a suitable local reference site, Chantry Island (Lake Huron) has generally been used as a reference site, largely due to the relatively low contaminant burdens found in the eggs from that colony. Chantry Island has traditionally been used as a reference site for previous studies for herring gulls. Although mink are not constrained to well defined breeding areas like colonial waterbirds, the method of sampling put severe constraints upon the geographical area from which they were sampled. 50

Niagara river remedial action plan stage 2 update Mink were sampled exclusively through trappers, mostly as bycatch in their attempts to capture more numerous muskrats and other species. Mink were obtained by Environment Canada by soliciting trappers to keep mink that were opportunistically caught during their normal trapping activities. Due to the low price of pelts, and the decline in the number of trappers, the ability to obtain suitable numbers of mink in areas immediately upstream or outside of the Niagara River AOC was minimal. Consequently, mink collected from eastern Lake Erie, in Haldimand Norfolk Regional Municipality, those collected within 7 km of Lake Erie, as well as those collected more than 10 km inland from Lake Ontario were used as reference mink. Snapping turtles are found in most permanent wetlands; consequently they are found in areas that would be suitable as reference sites for the Niagara River AOC. However, the snapping turtle sampling design was based upon the Fish and Wildlife Health Effects Study (SWAT), in 2001, in which reference sites were selected in the same manner that was done for the herring gulls. In this study, Tiny Marsh was selected as one reference site, due to the low contaminant burdens in eggs. Similarly, Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, which was the upstream reference site for the St Lawrence River (Cornwall) AOC, was also selected as a second (downstream) reference site for the Niagara River AOC. 3.4 BUI Assessment: Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption - only the Wildlife component (designated only as Requiring Further Assessment) Delisting Criteria: Delisting criteria were not developed as this BUI component was never shown to be Impaired - only Requiring Further Analysis. Wildlife consumption problems can be indicators for the effects of certain types of contaminants moving through the food chain eventually presenting a human health risk. Thus, this BUI refers to advisories to the public to restrict their consumption of specific kinds of wildlife or not to consume it at all. It does not refer to the risk of contaminant exposure to non-human consumers. Furthermore, this BUI is in relation to non-fish wildlife which are part of the aquatic ecosystems and there are currently no published guidelines for the consumption of wildlife (unlike the fish consumption guidelines produced by MOE). As previously mentioned in section 3.0, a review of this impairment was conducted as part of the working document (Technical Review 2007). To see the complete review please refer to Appendix 13. This review concluded that the following wildlife are known or thought to be consumed in the Niagara River AOC: }} Snapping Turtles } } } Migratory and resident waterfowl } Muskrat However, as there was a lack of information about the trapping and consumption of snapping turtle specifically at Lyons Creek East and muskrat at Lyons Creek West. These areas were identified as requiring further investigation based on the evaluations of the original 13 contaminated sites in the AOC (see section 2.2.3). 51

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