The Burnaby Lake dredging project is on hold again, following problems with the ground-penetrating radar unit the city is using to make sure there are no endangered Western painted turtles in harm’s way.
The city was planning to begin dredging in early January but may now be looking at a February start date.
Originally, the dredging was supposed to start on Sept. 23, but just days before, the Environment Ministry turned down an application for a wildlife salvaging permit because of the Western painted turtle.
Biologists were concerned that the dredging could kill the turtles because they hibernate by burrowing themselves in the mud beneath the water when temperatures drop to 15 C, and no one knew where they were settling this winter.
City-hired consultants managed to trap and tag a few turtles to track them, but not enough to satisfy Environment Ministry concerns.
Then the city came up with an unprecedented plan to use ground-penetrating radar to make sure dredging areas were clear of turtles, a plan the Environment Ministry agreed to as long as the turtles were located and avoided or handled safely and released in spring, depending on how many were found together at a time. But the radar unit is too sensitive and is picking up signals from things like rocks, root masses and debris.
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