Landscape disturbances, primarily caused by humans, are believed to be the ultimate cause of caribou declines in the boreal forest of Canada. Linear features including roads, pipelines, and seismic lines are pervasive across the boreal forest, and legacy seismic lines (established in the 1900’s) are of particular importance. Legacy seismic lines are around 5-15 meters wide, and were cut through the landscape as an exploration tool by oil & gas companies. These seismic lines are slow to regenerate, and are widely used by Off-highway vehicles (OHV). Because of this, restoration of seismic lines within caribou ranges is a priority for the recovery of threatened caribou population in Alberta, Canada. Our objective with this project was to determine factors that explained motorized OHV use on legacy seismic lines to inform management towards mitigating the impacts of OHV use within caribou ranges. We found that OHV use was mainly explained by local topography and attributes of seismic lines that facilitated travel on these seismic lines.
Pigeon KE, M Anderson, D MacNearney, J Cranston, G Stenhouse, L Finnegan (2016) Towards the restoration of caribou habitat: Understanding factors associated with human motorized use of legacy seismic lines. Environ. Manage. 58: 821 – 832