Marten Falls First Nation (MFFN) Community Access Road

February and March 2022 update
Current and upcoming activities

Welcome to the Marten Falls First Nation (MFFN) Community Access Road combined February and March E-Blast with updates on current and upcoming activities. This E-Blast features:

Project Update Video

New Discussion Guides: Birds and Spring Programs

Field Studies Update: Overview of recently completed and upcoming field studies

News Feature: Northern College launches environmental programming to train industry and First Nation field technicians

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Video, Survey and Gift Card

Watch a video, fill out the survey by March 31, 2022 and you’ll have a chance to win one of five $50 gift cards!

Find out what we’re up to, including field programs, consultation and engagement activities, the Indigenous Knowledge Program, and next steps. After you watch the video, please fill out our survey—we are looking for your input.

New Discussion Guides: Birds and Spring Programs

We have two new discussion guides and we are looking for your input to help shape these programs:

  1. Birds: Learn about our plans for Autonomous Recording Unit, Aerial, Marsh Bird Call Playback and Breeding Bird Point Count Surveys. We welcome your feedback on the key questions in the Discussion Guide. Learn more
  2. Spring Field Programs: Learn about our plans for Groundwater and Geochemistry Field Program, Surface Water Field Program, Physiography Field Program, Vegetation Field Program, Ungulate Remote Camera Program and Wolverine Hair Snag Surveys. Share your feedback.

Field Studies Updates

Ungulate Aerial Surveys

Field crews completed aerial surveys in February to gather population and distribution information of caribou (atigwag) and other wildlife including moose (moozoog), wolves (maihganang) and wolverine (wishkobishag). A total of 162 caribou were observed during the aerial survey program.  Aerial surveys will continue in winter 2023.

caribou aerial view
caribou aerial view

Wolverine Hair Snag Surveys

In February, field crews deployed 54 wolverine hair snag traps in the study area to collect information about wolverine (wishkobishag) demographics (male / female). During deployment the field crew also found wolverine tracks.

In March, crews have been completing the first round of monthly re-baiting and hair samples have been collected. The remote cameras captured great images of wolverine visiting the hair snag traps.

wolverine reaching for bait
wolverine reaching for bait

Upcoming Field Studies

Our field crews are very busy in the upcoming spring and summer months! There are a lot of moving parts when scheduling winter and spring programs, including snow conditions, accommodations, weather and on-going monitoring of COVID-19 situations. We appreciate your understanding as timelines shift and change.

Our field studies will be strengthened by the Indigenous Knowledge shared with us by MFFN and neighbouring Indigenous communities through the Indigenous Knowledge Program. In addition, study-specific Discussion Guides will continue to be distributed to our contact list to provide information about what the study or program is and why it’s important to the Community Access Road.  Your input is important, and we want to make it easy for you to provide it!  Discussion Guides will be sent out in advance of a program or study starting, so you have an opportunity to shape the program through your input.  If you have ideas on ways to make it easier for you to have a say, please let us know.  We are all ears.

Below is a high-level overview of upcoming field study programs and their approximate timelines*:

  • Wolverine Hair Snag Surveys (March 6 – 16, 2022; April – May 2022): Hair snag traps were placed in the study area in February 2022 to provide information about wolverine (wishkobishag) demographics (male / female). Crews will be returning each month to re-bait the hair snag traps. Learn more about wolverines in our video here.
  • Bird Autonomous Recording Units (March 6 – 16, 2022; May – July 2022): 30 Autonomous Recording Units (ARU) will be set-up in the study area. In an effort to avoid the traditional goose hunt in April, this program will be completed by crews while out re-baiting wolverine hair snag traps. This program will continue throughout summer and fall, 2022. Read the Discussion Guide and share your feedback.
  • Wolverine Denning Surveys (March 11 – 15, 2022): In support of the Groundwater and Geochemistry program, proposed drill sites will be surveyed for presence of tracks and sign of wolverine denning. If a maternal wolverine is located close to drilling locations, mitigation measures will be implemented to minimize negative impacts to this species during this time period. Learn more about wolverines in our video here.
  • Air Monitoring (March 14 - 17, 2022): Technicians will be performing a routine maintenance visit on the air monitoring device in MFFN. Learn more about air quality and greenhouse gases in our video here.
  • Caribou (atik) Mortality Investigation (March 2022): In February 2021, 30 radio collars were placed on adult female caribou (atik) to collect data over three years. Mortality investigations will continue to be conducted as needed. Field crews will likely include another mortality investigation with an upcoming spring program—details TBD. Learn more about ungulates in our video here.
  • Furbearer Ground Track Surveys (March 2022): Due to current weather and snow conditions the methodology for the second round of Furbearer Ground Track Surveys has been modified. Instead of walking transects, surveys will be conducted from a helicopter with crews landing to validate tracks to inform the distribution, abundance and density of furbearers (such as wolverines [wishkobishag / wiingwa’waakeg] and martens [wabizheshihwag / wabashtanang]), and mammals in the study area. We are waiting for appropriate weather conditions required for this program and expect it to be completed soon. Learn more about furbearers in our video and Discussion Guide here.
  • Groundwater and Geochemistry (March – May 2022): Installation of monitoring wells to assess groundwater fluctuations, seasonal changes in water quality and develop an understanding of current conditions. This program will continue into the summer and fall. Learn more about groundwater and geochemistry in our video and Discussion Guide here.
  • Aerial Waterfowl Migration Surveys (April – September 2022): Transects, or straight lines, will be flown in spring and fall to observe waterfowl (such as ducks; Shesheeb) and shorebird stopover and staging locations, and to observe raptors nesting locations. Read the Discussion Guide and share your feedback.
  • Breeding Bird Aerial Surveys (May – July 2022): Similar to Aerial Waterfowl Migration Surveys, these aerial surveys will focus on waterfowl and raptor nesting in the breeding season (and does not include shorebirds). Read the Discussion Guide and share your feedback.
  • Ungulate Remote Camera Check (May & October 2022): Field crews will return to remote cameras deployed in June 2021 to inspect cameras and replace batteries and memory cards. Learn more about ungulates in our video here.
  • Breeding Bird Point Counts, Marsh Playback Surveys and Eastern Whip-poor-will Autonomous Recording Units (May – July 2022): Skilled observers will use three survey methods to identify birds, including marsh birds, breeding birds and the Eastern Whip-poor-will (a Species at Risk), by sight and sound.Species at Risk birds are those that are listed as endangered or special concern. Species at Risk birds in the study area include Olive-Sided Flycatcher and Common Nighthawk (bekshkew)
  • Surface Water (May 2022): Field crews will collect information on surface water (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams) quantity and quality, sediment quality (e.g., sand, silt, clay) and benthic invertebrates (organisms that live at the bottom of lakes, rivers and streams). This work will be taking place at approximately 50 to 60 water crossings along both of the route alternatives being studied. Additional fishing effort and fish habitat information may also be collected in spring. Learn more about surface water and fish and fish habitat in our video and Discussion Guide here.
  • Vegetation, Physiography and Terrain  (June 2022): This field program will collect information on plants, geologic features, and soil conditions including moisture and nutrient levels. This information is important to better understand the current conditions and relationship between the soil and the ecosystems that depend on it, including plants that grow in the forest or wetlands. Learn more about vegetation in our video and Discussion Guide here.

Our website is updated regularly with Field Notices that you can view at your convenience. Recent notices and updates include:

  • December 10, 2021: Field Notice for upcoming winter programs
  • January 19, 2022: Updates confirming dates for the first round of ground track surveys, remote camera check and caribou mortality field programs
  • February 4, 2022: Update confirming dates for the first round of ungulate aerial surveys
  • February 14, 2022: Field Notice for wolverine denning survey
  • March 9, 2022: Update on wolverine denning survey timing

If you have any questions, comments or feedback on the planned studies, we would like to hear from you (contact information below).

*Timelines and programs are approximate and may shift; we will provide updates as required

The Northern College is introducing a six-week Environmental and Field Monitor training program. Training began this past month in February at Lac Seul First Nation, near Sioux Lookout in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario Business Staff spoke with former Project Team member Larissa Stevens who noted the range of field work opportunities that community members can get involved in with minimal experience. With ongoing and upcoming field studies, there will be a variety of positions available for community members on the field team to get involved in the Project.

landscape with mountains and a lake behind

Photo credit: LBS Environmental Consulting

Questions or comments?

Questions or comments? Contact us at 1-800-764-9114 or

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