Marc Symbaluk received the 2009 Tony Milligan Book Award for his paper on “Testing Landscape Modeling Approaches for Environmental Impact Assessment of Mining Land Use on Grizzly Bears (Ursus Arctos Horribilis) in the Foothills Region of West Central Alberta” presented at the 2008 Symposium.
Abstract from the winning paper:
The grizzly bear habitat effectiveness model (HEM) was used in west-central Alberta for Cumulative Environmental Assessments (1996 and 1999) of the Cheviot open pit coal mine project. This thesis tested HEM predictions regarding the Cheviot mine with empirical data. The HEM outputs were disproved for grizzly bear response to mining land use. Further, when tested at the mining land use scale, current Resource Selection Function (RSF) modeling is not predictive of grizzly bear occurrence. Grizzly bear movement paths prior to and during mine disturbance determined that mining land use does not present significant landscape or regional barriers to grizzly bears. This study examined regional and mining land use opportunities and risks pertaining to grizzly bears. I provide a critical review of the Cheviot CEA process and the implications of commitments made by governments and conclude with recommendations for mining land use and regional planning for grizzly bear protection.