Sahtu Karst Study
Principal Investigator: Skelton, Jennifer (1)
Licence Number: 14198
Organization: GNWT-ENR-Wildlife Division
Licenced Year(s): 2007
Issued: Jul 21, 2007
Project Team: Dr. Derek Ford (Expert on Northern karst, McMaster University), Dr. Paul Catling (Expert on karst plants, Agriculture Canada), Person To be Decided (PAS representative, PAS)

Objective(s): The objective of this study is to know the locations and characteristics of karst sites in the Sahtu, providing information for environmental assessment of future developments and for land-use planning. Karst topography is an unique landform; the environmental impacts on the land and water of various land uses can be different in these places.

Project Description: The Northwest Territories contains numerous unique landforms known as karst topography. The objective of this study is to know the locations and characteristics of karst sites in the Sahtu, providing information for environmental assessment of future developments and for land-use planning. Karst topography is an unique landform; the environmental impacts on the land and water of various land uses can be different in these places.

Staff with the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy (NWT PAS) have consulted Dr. Derek Ford (retired professor McMaster University), one of the world’s leading karst experts, on how best to achieve the goals outlined above. Dr. Ford is available to come to the NWT in mid-July 2007. A second researcher, Dr. Paul Catling (Agriculture Canada in Ottawa), is an expert on plants associated with karst sites and will document vegetation at each of the sites visited this year. Dr. Catling is also an expert on dragonflies and has been involved with coordinating and identifying collections of dragonflies from across the NWT over the past several years with biologists with the GNWT, co-management boards, and Parks Canada. A PAS representative will accompany these two researchers in the field.

The proposed fieldwork in 2007 will require 4 consecutive days of aerial survey by helicopter to locate, photograph, and describe karst sites in the Sahtu. At particularly interesting sites, the field crew will land the helicopter to document geology, hydrology, and vegetation in greater detail. Measures will be taken of water conductivity, temperature, and pH (acidity); small samples of rock (less than 500 g), water (100 ml) and plants may be collected where absolutely necessary. Plants will only be collected when they cannot be identified at the site; no rare plants will be collected. All plant specimens will be catalogued and will be kept at the National Herbarium (Agriculture Canada, Ottawa).
The researchers can send a copy of the final presentation to any community organization that requests it. They can also be available to make presentations where this is useful. In addition, information collected by the PAS is always used in working with communities in identifying areas they wish to protect. This information will be particularly useful to Tulita in working to establish Bear Rock as a protected area.

Fieldwork will be conducted from July 21 to August 10, 2007, on the following region:
- On the first two days key sites east of the Mackenzie River will be surveyed: Bear Rock; karst around Willow Lake and Mahoney Lake; a major karst belt south and north of the Hare Indian River between Tunago Lake in the west and Smith Arm of Great Bear Lake in the east; karst near the south shore of Lac des Bois.
- On the second two days the following sites west of the Mackenzie River will be surveyed: Mackay Range; Ration Creek; Bonus Lake; Moraine Polje (on Keele River); Carcajou and Dodo Canyon karsts.