Land and wildlife

The generation and transmission of electricity involves extensive use of land resources to provide sites and materials for facilities and activities. Use of these resources can produce a variety of associated effects, ranging from the contamination of soils to the creation or reduction of wildlife habitat.

When construction crews build transmission lines and generation projects they are guided by environmental protections plans developed specifically for the project.

The plans use an atlas of maps to describe environmental conditions along the construction routes, identify sensitive features, and prescribe environmental protection activities for specific sites and circumstances.

Environmental Protection Plans were first used in the field in the early 1990s during construction of the Split Lake 138 kV transmission line. In keeping with plan requirements, 31 environmentally sensitive sites were cleared by hand rather than machine, to avoid disturbing stream crossings and other sensitive environments. The field version of the plan provided on-the-spot guidance for project personnel, from supervisors to hand-clearing crews to bulldozer operators, in their day-to-day decisions and operations.

Environmental protection plans now apply to all major projects, including guidelines for protecting the environment during construction, maintenance, and decommissioning.

Peregrines

We built a 10-metre-high tower near La Barrière Provincial Park south of Winnipeg for raising and breeding peregrine falcons in an environment where it is hoped they can learn to adapt to the hazards of hydro poles and power lines.

Peregrines and other birds of prey sometimes nest on hydro poles and towers where they can be electrocuted. To protect birds of prey, Hydro’s staff has installed nesting and perching platforms on hydro structures across Manitoba. The platforms have provided safe nests for many adult birds and chicks, but because of its training approach the peregrine tower project could prove more effective.

The project is part of a 4-year falcon recovery program by Parkland Mews Falconry, supported by Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Conservation.

Peregrine falcons are listed as an endangered species in Manitoba.

Woodland caribou

We support research on woodland caribou populations, some of which are located near the Wuskwatim Generating Station and its associated transmission lines. The research is designed to shed light on caribou behaviour and could help plan and design future generation and transmission developments.

As part of the research, DNA is extracted from fecal material to identify individual animals and to help determine population structure, size, and trends. This information is essential to assessing and mitigating the impact of industrial activities on the species.

In other research, biologists are collecting data on the whereabouts of the herds through aerial surveys that use Very High Frequency and Global Positioning System tracking collars worn by the animals. When interpreted, data from the collars show where the caribou have gone, yielding insights into their habitat requirements, migration patterns, and other life-cycle characteristics, as well as the potential effects of resource development.

Woodland caribou in the province are widely dispersed, from the Manitoba–Ontario border, east of Pine Falls, to Lynn Lake. Caribou live in the boreal forest and use a variety of habitats including mature spruce, jack pine, and treed bog. Their main source of food is lichen, but they may also eat twigs, leaves and sedges.

Learn more about Fur, Feathers, Fins and Transmission Lines: How transmission lines and rights-of-way affect wildlife (PDF, 7 MB).