2016 Summer in the Field

Our ongoing monitoring and permitting commitments, summer field work was in full swing the past few months for Cascade!

Introducing Remote Underwater Film and Photo Services

Cascade is pleased to announce the addition of a new piece of equipment and service for our valued current and future clients. We now own an OpenROV 2.7 Mini Observation Class ROV, a small remotely operated underwater vehicle with built in camera.  With the ROV CERG has the capacity to conduct underwater environmental assessments in lakes and near shore marine environments.


Features include:

  • 75 m depth capacity in seawater
  • Temperature capability of -10C  to +50C
  • Up to 2 hours of dive time
  • LED lighting for low-light environments (max. 180 lumens)
  • Red Scaling lasers (parallel, 10 cm separation)
  • Software controlled camera tilt (+/- 60 deg from center)

This ROV is small and light weight, making it easy to transport and operate.  This new service can offer a cost effective alternative to the use of snorkelers and divers.  Cascade recently used the ROV to assess the environmental conditions of a near shore marine environment in Howe Sound, Squamish, BC, before and after the site was used to film a scene for a prominent television show.  The ROV can be employed for a variety of applications.  It can be used to non-invasively document the presence and absence of aquatic flora and fauna, ground truth aquatic sediment and provide photo and video imagery of the condition of underwater structures such as docks and building pylons.

Now Offering Paleolimnology Services for Environmental Assessment

Cascade is pleased to announce the addition of a new service for our valued current and future clients. We now have the capacity to assess the long term impact of watershed development through the application of paleolimnological methods. This new service provides a rapid assessment of lakes and watersheds that cuts down on the need for long term monitoring of these systems.

Thanks in part to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Engage Grant, Cascade hosted two researchers, Dr. Ian Spooner and Graduate Student Dewey Dunnington from Acadia University during the summer of 2014. Their research focuses on developing methods for the rapid determination of the impact of watershed development and environmental change on small lakes. In Eastern Canada researchers in Dr. Spooner’s lab at Acadia University use paleolimnology methods in combination with innovative tools such as gravity corers, portable XRF and stable isotopes to quickly distinguish between natural lake water quality and conditions influenced by anthropogenic activity.

Building on our partnership with Acadia University, Cascade will be incorporating these paleolimnologial methods into our services. A change to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) in 2012 now requires that lake assessment studies be completed within a year. Standard limnology services involve collecting water samples and surface sediment samples and monitoring over several years and multiple times per year, the results of which only provide a snap shot of lake conditions at the time of sampling. Cascade, with assistance from Dr. Spooner and his lab, has the ability to efficiently predict climate change and assess the long term impact of watershed development on lakes throughout Canada.

Old Forest Focus Project

Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Whistler Cascade is currently working with the Cheakamus Community Forest and its other partners, Bob Brett, B.A. Blackwell and Associates and Ecotrust, to identify, map and create a plan for protecting stands of old growth trees in the Whistler area.  Traditionally, logging companies have been bound to identifying 19% of a landscape unit as Old Growth Management Area (OGMA).  These are often identified in parks or protected areas, allowing the logging company to meet its OGMA requirements without losing any available timber for harvest.  The goal of the Old Forest Focus Project is to rethink this practice by identifying and protecting the stands of old trees most important to Whistler’s residents, businesses and visitors.  The Community Forest is currently leading a public consultation effort that seeks your input on this project, with the next information gathering session scheduled for early December.  For more information on the Community Forest, visit http://www.cheakamuscommunityforest.com/ and keep an eye on the local papers and our twitter feed for final event date, time and location information.

Britannia South

Cascade is currently working as the environmental consultant to the Britannia South development in Britannia Beach, BC. This proposed community will bring several thousand new residents to the Sea to Sky corridor along with plans for new infrastructure that currently includes a town centre, marina, and school. Cascade was recently profiled on South Britannia’s blog, follow the link below to learn more about this unique development and to read about two locals’ take on the landscape from Cascade Principals Mike Nelson and Dave Williamson.

www.southbritannia.com/Journal.php#Meet the Team: Cascade Environmental

Wedgemount Lake Survey

Recently, Cascade conducted physical and biological surveys of Wedgemount Lake to determine its fish bearing status. This work was performed as part of the provincial/federal review process for a proposed Independent Power Project (IPP) on Wedgemount Creek.

Cascade staff, led by Candace shown to the left were flown in by helicopter and placed minnow traps around the lake to determine fish presence. In addition they also conducted a bathymetric survey and spot sampling to develop a depth profile, a temperature profile and to determine water chemistry and substrate composition. These surveys enabled us to map several aspects of the lake, learn more about this valuable local recreation spot, and determine that there are no fish in Wedgemount Lake.

Western Screech-owl Survey

Recently two of our technicians spent the night out in the Squamish Valley looking for Screech-owls as part of an environmental assessment being completed for the Pilchuck IPP (Independent Power Project). Screech-owls are a small, nocturnal, and primarily woodland based grouping of owls. There are at least 21 known species of Screech-owls at present but, the only one native to the west coast is the Western Screech-owl. These owls have a distinct call which is quite different from the common hoot that one may expect from an owl. They are known for their piercing calls which consist of more than four individual calls per second. Have a listen to this MP3 for an idea what it sounds like.

Our team conducted call-back surveys by broadcasting a recorded Screech-owl call through a mega-phone, and then patiently and quietly waited for a response from any Screech-owls in the area. Because of the nocturnal nature of these owls our team had to reset their own body-clocks to start at 8pm and work through the night. It wasn’t until the very end of the survey, in the final minute, that our technicians actually heard an owl. Taking bearings from several different sites they were able to determine an area which the owl was responding from. This survey was just one in a series of many for this area. It will be exciting to watch and see if our technicians get the same response on their next outing.