07 May 2013

Keystone Center science panels, May 6 and 7, Anchorage

The Keystone Center has scheduled additional science panels to discuss content from Pebble Limited Partnership's Environmental Baseline Document, with a focus on wetlands, vegetation, wildlife and threatened and endangered species.

The panels will be held in the Consortium Library on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus and will be open to the public. They will also be filmed and broadcast via web-stream live by KTOO for 360 North. Registration for the science panels is now open and space is limited.

Register online or call (866) 276-3074 to attend one or more of the panels.

The May 6-7 panel forum will complete the Keystone independent scientific review of the Environmental Baseline Document. Recommendations that are issued from the panels will be incorporated into a forthcoming report.

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07 May 2013

Wetlands, wildlife and birds discussed at Keystone science panels

DSC06577Wetlands work drew measured praise, while wildlife and bird studies were found lacking at Keystone Center science panels held at the Consortium Library on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, May 6 and May 7 to review portions of the Pebble Limited Partnership’s (PLP) Environmental Baseline Document (EBD). The two-day session covered wetlands, wildlife, trace elements, and threatened and endangered species.

Panels were structured to allow a dialogue between contracted scientists who had written portions of the EBD, independent scientists who reviewed specific chapters, and members of the public, who could ask questions in person or by email.

Summary of Day One

Wetlands

Consultant Christopher Wroble, of HDR, presented an overview of studies conducted to identify wetlands in the mine study area and the transportation corridor. Scientists determined that 33.4 percent of the mine study area and 16 percent of the transportation corridor study area consists of wetlands or water bodies. These determinations were based on characteristics including vegetation, soil and hydrology.

Wroble explained the methodogy and results of the studies in detail, and showed a sample image from the database where the data on vegetation and soils are contained.

Independent reviewers Larry Gough, Ph.D and Robert Naiman, Ph.D. had praise for the wetlands study, with a few clarifying questions. Gough, an emeritus Research Botanist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the study was well done and showed that the consultants were objective and competent. Naiman, an expert in aquatic ecology and watershed management, said that the scientists used established protocols and methods and did an excellent job.

“I know how complicated and how much effort went into these kinds of investigations,” said Naiman. “You are creating an accounting sheet of what you have out there in one point in time. It takes tremendous effort, but now the hard work begins.” He went on to explain that the types of characterization and inventories produced for the EBD do not reflect related issues, such as water quality, and resistance or resilience to disturbances that come with development. “These are outside the scope of the original objectives, but the hard work is to assess these.”

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