Sundre Forest Products Inc., a division of West-Fraser Mills Ltd. (West-Fraser) is planning to realign the Baptiste River that is currently flowing adjacent to Township Road 405B (DLO 840722; locally known as the Jackfish Lake Road), located at 12-30-41-11 W5M (Figure 1). Jackfish Lake Road is subject to erosional forces from the Baptiste River which could cause eventual failure of the road if it continues to flow along its present location. West-Fraser is proposing to divert the Baptiste River into an existing dry channel (historic, pre-2005) located 35-40 m west of Jackfish Lake Road.
The following provincial and federal acts are addressed in this report:
- Water Act administered by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)
- Public Lands Act administered by AEP
- The Fisheries Act, administered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) through the Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program (FFHPP)
- The Species at Risk Act (SARA)
- The Canadian Navigable Waters Act, administered by the Navigation Protection Program (NPP) Concerned Public
West-Fraser plans to complete all work in the dry historic channel prior to diverting flow. Access to the dry channel will be via a temporary bridge across the existing channel from Jackfish Lake Road. Work in the dry channel will consist of excavating the bed to a designed elevation and grade. Additional fish habitat enhancement features will be incorporated into the channel design to increase productive capacity of this reach of the Baptiste River. Enhancement features will be selected based on suitability to enhance fish habitat and remain stable during high flow periods such as freshet or heavy precipitation.
Once work in the dry channel is complete, flow from the main channel will be diverted gradually into the new channel. A temporary diversion structure will then be installed at the top of the existing channel and at the downstream end, isolating the section adjacent to the road. A fish rescue will be completed in the isolated section, removing stranded fish to the main channel. Berms will then be constructed behind the isolations to maintain the diversion into the new channel, protecting the road from flooding (estimated for 1:100 flood elevation) and erosion. Final site drawings will be submitted once the design is finalized (early 2021). The project will replace 1380 m2 of scoured channel adjacent to Jackfish Lake Road with 1877 m2 of natural channel, with fish habitat enhancements, increasing usable habitat by 497 m2 and increasing the channel length by additional 50 m.
Construction is planned for August 2021, prior to spring run-off and will take about five to seven days to complete.