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TransportationInfrastructure7TuesdaySeptember32013ByMEAGANWOHLBERGMotoristsonnorthernAl-bertasHighway63toFortMcMurraywillsoonseean-other32kmofthetreacher-oushighwayonitswaytobeingtwinnedaccordingtothedepartmentofTrans-portationwhichreleasedanupdateonconstructionactivitieslastweek.ThesectionofroadwaybetweenHouseRiverandMarianaLakeisthenexttobetwinnedfollowingthecompletionofanumberofpassinglanesandslidere-pairsdonethissummer.The32-kmprojectwasawardedthroughcompeti-tivetendertoCarmacksGroupLtd.for147millionandisscheduledtoben-ishedby2015.Weremainontracktomeettheacceleratedfall2016twinningscheduleAlbertaTransportationMinisterRicMcIversaidinapressre-lease.ThisprojectisoneofmanymajorinvestmentswearemakingtobuildAlbertagrowoureconomyenhancemarketaccessandbenetallAlbertans.InadditiontogradingandpavingthetwonewlanesthreenewbridgeswillbebuiltoverBearCreekCrowCreekandtheHouseRiver.CrewsbeganworkingonthesiteinmidAugustandworkisexpectedtobeinfullswingbyearlySeptem-berwithworkersgradingaroundtheclockbeginningatHouseRiverandmakingtheirwaynorth.Morethan350millionhasbeeninvestedintotwin-ningHighway63betweenGrasslandsandFortMcMur-raysince2005andAlber-tanswillseeanotherthreeyearsofconstructiononthehighwaybeforethe1-billionprojectiscompletedbythescheduleddateoffall2016.Thehighwayisbeingtwinnedspeciallyforthesizeofindustrialvehiclesusedintheoilsands30percentofwhichareheavyloads.Measuresarealsobeingimplementedtoprotectwild-lifealongtheentireroutewhichcrossestwocariboumanagementzonesaccord-ingtotheprovince.Apartfromrestrictionsonconstructionactivityduringbirdnestingandin-streamac-tivitytherewillbe10-metregapsleftevery200metresintopsoilstockpilesalongtheconstructionsitetopermitwildlifepassage.SpawningpoolsarealsobeingconstructedneartheHouseRiverbridgesitetohelppromotetheAlbertagovernmentsrecoverygoalofArcticgraylingandothershspeciesandturbiditymonitoringwillbeconductedonaregularbasis.Driversarecautionedtoobeyallsignsagpeopleandpostedspeedlimitsinconstructionzonesduringtheconstructionperiod.Highway63twinninginfullswingAlbertaontrackwith2016constructionscheduleHighway63projectsrecentlytenderedorunderconstruction27kmoftwinninggradingnearWanderingRiverfall2013completionClimbinglanesnorthofCrowLakeProvincialParktosouthofHighway881junction-completedsummer20135kmoftreeclearingsouthofHouseRivertonorthofMarianaLake-completedspring201317kmoftwinninggradingfromnorthofAlgarTowertosouthofHorseCreeksummer2014completion15kmoftwinninggradingfromnorthofMarianaLaketonorthofAlgarTowerfall2013completion17kmoftwinninggradingfromnorthofLaBicheRivertosouthofWanderingRiverspring2014completionSliderepairssouthofHighway881completedsum-mer2013LaBicheRiverbridge14kmnorthofAtmoresum-mer2014completion32kmoftwinninggradingpavingbridgesfromsouthofHouseRivertonorthofCrowCreek-fall2015completionHighway63projectsexpectedtobeawardedbytheendof20138kmoftwinninggradingpavingbridgesfromsouthofHorseCreektonorthofHangingStoneRiver-fall2015completionThreeWanderingRiverbridges-summer2014completion17kmofbaseandpavefromnorthofLaBicheRivertosouthofWanderingRiver2015completion27kmofbaseandpavenearWanderingRiver2015completion32kmofbaseandpavefromnorthofMarianaLaketosouthofHorseCreek2015completionPhotocourtesyoftheGovernmentofAlbertaMackenziebisonsurveyrevealsherdhithardin2012ByMEAGANWOHLBERGResultsfromarecenty-oversurveyofbisonintheMackenziesanctuaryshowtheherdwashittwiceashardasrstestimatedin2012inlargepartduetothebiggestanthraxout-breakonrecordinthearealastsummer.Whileatotalof440carcasseswererecoveredanddisposedoflastyearfollowingthedeadlyan-thraxoutbreakscientistswiththeNWTdepartmentofEnvironmentandNatu-ralResourcesENRsus-pectedtherewerelikelymoreoutthere.Thosesuspicionswerecon-rmedbyasurveydoneinMarch2013whichcountedjust714bisondown816fromthepopulationestimateof1530givenoneyearearlier.Weknewthatwehadntfoundthemall.AlotofthemwouldhavediedinheavycoverwherewejustdidntndthemsaidENRbisonecologistTerryArmstrong.Thoughmuchofthede-clinecanlikelybeattrib-utedtoanthraxArmstrongsaiditwouldbeamistaketoleaveoutotherknowncausesofdeath.YouhavetokeepinmindthatthereareothermortalityLanduseplansetsupfourzonesContinuedfrompage1.Thisisagreatachieve-mentandanimportantsteptowardsconservationofbo-realwetlandhabitatsKevinSmithnationalmanagerofborealprogramsforDUCsaidinapressrelease.DUCishappytoseetheSahtuLandUsePlanningBoardworkingwiththeSahtucommunitiestotakeanin-tegratedapproachtolanduseplanningtoprotectandfactorsoperatinginthere.Theresregularnaturalmor-talitywehadafairlylargenumberofanimalslostonthehighwaylastyearduetocollisionstherearealsoothereventsthatwedontknowaboutliketheycoulddieoverwinterduetostar-vationandweknowthatsometimessomedrownhesaid.Weknowthereweremorethanthe440thatdiedofan-thraxbutwerenotsurehowmanymore.Iwouldntsayitwastwiceasmany.RegardlessofthecauseArmstrongsaidthedropinnumbersisconsideredquitesubstantial.Though714isnotthelowestthepopula-tionhasbeenhistoricallyitislowerthanithasbeensincethemid1980s.Iwouldcallthataprettyseriousdeclinebutaone-timediseaseeventisnotgoingtopushthisherdintoextinctionoranythinglikethat.Itsamajoreventthatrequiredmanagementin-terventionbutatthispointweseenoreasonwhygiventimeandgoodhabitatcondi-tionsthatthisherdcouldntrecoverhesaid.HarvestontheMackenzieherdwasclosedlastyearfol-lowingthesummeranthraxoutbreakandremainsclosed.AccordingtoENRspokes-personJudyMclintonthede-partmentwillbeconsultingAboriginalgovernmentsandcommunitiesoverthenextfewmonthsonmanagementactionstoensuretheconser-vationoftheherd.Apartfromharvestingre-strictionsArmstrongsaidnotmuchelseisneededrightnowtobringthepopulationbacktohealthierlevels.Thereisntreallymuchelsethatwecoulddowiththispopulationhesaid.Wedontwanttogetintointen-siveagriculturetypeman-agement.Itsawildpopula-tionitneedstobeabletobevigorousonitsownwhichitcertainlycanbe.Sowithsomeprotectionandahia-tusfromhuntingifhabitatconditionsaredecenttheyshouldprobablyrecoverwithsometime.conservethisuniquenatu-rallandscape.Theplanlaysoutfourman-agementzonesasidefromthoseconsideredexistingprotectedareaslikenationalparkswhichincludegeneralusezonesspecialmanage-mentzonesconservationzonesandproposedconser-vationinitiatives.Generaluseallowsalllanduseexceptbulkwaterremovalwhilespecialmanagementallowsforthesamebutwithuniqueman-agementrequirementsspe-cictoeachzone.Conser-vationzonesaresignicanttraditionalculturalheritageandecologicalareasinwhichspeciedlandusesarepro-hibited.Proposedconserva-tioninitiativesrefertoareasforwhichprotectionisbeingsoughtthroughtheProtectedAreasStrategyorParksCan-adalegislation.Ofthoseprotectivezones3millionhectaresofarenewareasidentiedbytheSahtucommunitiesand2.5millionacresincludedundertheproposedTsudenilineTueyetaortheRampartsRiverandWetlandsacan-didateundertheNWTPro-tectedAreasStrategyandakeymigratorybirdhabitatsiteconsideredanimpor-tantareaforducksgeeseandloons.Highwaycrewspaveanewly-twinnedsectionofHighway63nearWanderingRiver.EnvironmentWildlife