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Recovery strategy and action plan for the Banff springs snail (Physella johnsoni) in Canada (amendment)

2. Recovery


2.1 Rationale for recovery feasibility

The recovery of the Banff springs snail is considered feasible. Although the species is geographically restricted and highly specialized, there are potentially thousands of individuals capable of reproduction annually. The snail is most likely hermaphroditic (Clarke 1973; Dillon 2000). Following natural seasonal periods of decline, it has demonstrated the ability to rebound quickly to substantial populations. Sufficient habitat is available, at least for the maintenance of seven of the ten previously recorded natural populations. Results of re-establishments into Upper Middle and Kidney springs are encouraging and will be monitored to ensure longer-term success. Feasibility for re-establishment at the Upper Hot and Gord’s springs will continue to be assessed. Recent population viability studies estimated that the probability of extinction of the species within the next 40 years is zero (Tischendorf 2003). Although individual spring extirpation probabilities are as high as 30%, the population trend over the past 10 years (1996 through 2005) is significantly increasing if results from the two re-established populations are added to the original five extant populations (Lepitzki unpubl. data).

Significant threats to the snail are mainly related to the management of and public visitation to the thermal springs within BNP. Recovery techniques already successfully employed include: limiting public access, construction of boardwalks, increasing signage, enhancing education and increasing surveillance and enforcement (Lepitzki and Pacas 2001, 2002). Techniques for habitat enhancement have been successful and additional enhancements are included in the Action Plan. For these reasons, recovery is considered feasible.


2.2 Recovery goal

The recovery goal is to restore and maintain self-sustaining populations of the Banff springs snail within the species’ historic range.

Restoring refers to re-establishing snail populations and habitat within historic range, where and when possible. Restoration does not only imply habitat enhancement at currently occupied thermal springs. Currently unoccupied thermal springs that may be restored include the Upper Hot and Gord’s springs, and former habitat areas at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada (C&BNHS).

A self-sustaining population is one that, while undergoing its natural and annual population fluctuation, continues to persist in the absence of human intervention.

Assigning this species to a lower risk category by COSEWICFootnote 3 may not be possible due to the limited availability of thermal spring habitat and the endemic nature of the snail. Nevertheless, attaining the goal would improve the species’ status and increase the probability of its long-term survival.


2.3 Recovery objectives

The primary objectives are to:

  1. Protect populations and habitats by mitigating human and natural threats
  2. Restore self-sustaining snail populations and habitat within historic range, where and when possible, and
  3. Increase knowledge and understanding of snail ecology, thermal spring ecosystems and threats to them.

The objectives of this recovery strategy support the goal of restoring the snail to its historic range, to the extent possible. Objectives aim firstly to reduce the risks associated with the snail’s highly restricted range, but also acknowledge its historical global rarity. No actions are directed to introduce the snail to thermal spring habitat outside its historic range as determined at the time the species was originally described in 1926. Secondly, there are still many actions that can be taken to mitigate human and natural threats at existing and restored sites. Finally, past monitoring and research has been considerable, but further monitoring and ecological research are essential to measuring success and improving recovery implementation (e.g. threat mitigation, habitat restoration).


2.4 Approaches recommended to meet recovery objectives

Broad strategies to meet recovery goals include:

  • Habitat Protection
  • Habitat Management, Restoration, Enhancement, and Snail Re-establishment
  • Scientific Research and Monitoring
  • Communication and Education


2.4.1 Recovery and action planning

 

Table 4. Recovery actions required to address strategy objectives and threats - Objective 1: Protect populations and habitats by mitigating human and natural threats
Priority (1,2,3)Threats AddressedGeneral StepsActionsOutcomes and Scheduling
1Soaking, swimming, trampling, other local disturbances, limb-dipping, and other threats (e.g., collecting)Design and implement a revised protocol to monitor levels and amounts of human-caused habitat disturbance

Continue to collect data on human impacts that affect snails and their habitats during regular snail surveys

Determine the level of monitoring required during visitation periods

Ongoing revisions as required

Human impact trends assessed monthly

Revised monitoring protocol by June 2006

1As aboveReduce human-caused habitat disturbance

Updated and improved signage, through standardized messages and signage at the C&BNHS, Middle, and Kidney springs

Ensure that appropriate protection and presentation messages are incorporated into the C&BNHS Management Planning Process

Publicize surveillance system charges and penalties

Signage updated and improved in 2006

C&BNHS Management Plan finalized by 2006

Information updated annually following Nov. Recovery Team (RT) meetings

1As aboveContinue to raise awareness and educate those potentially threatening the snail and its habitat

Targeted communications to service workers, visitors to the C&BNHS and improved pre-trip information for C&BNHS tour groups

Improve visitor linkages between the Upper Hot springs where visitors can soak and swim and the C&BNHS where visitors can see the snails

Repeat Thomlinson (2005) to see if actions have resulted in visitor behavioural changes

Communicate successes of actions to date

Pre-trip communications improved prior to summer 2007 visitor season

In 2006 improve linkages and messages between C&BNHS and Upper Hot springs Thomlinson study repeated in 2008

Results of repeated study measuring effectiveness of social science research actions presented (Nov. 2008 RT meeting)

1As aboveUpdate the Protection Implementation Plan

Review and revise the Protection Implementation Plan annually

Evaluate options to prevent human-caused habitat disturbance (e.g., Olson and Olson 2003)

Human incursions into snail habitat summarized

Annual Protection and Operations report presented at Nov. RT meeting

Annual work plan produced from Nov. RT meetings

1As aboveDesign and implement a standardized protocol to test electronic surveillance devices currently employed to protect habitat

Test electronic devices

Update, as required, testing protocols

Establish and maintain a log of results from electronic surveillance device testing

Standardized testing protocol designed and implemented by Sept. 2006

Testing results presented at Nov. RT meeting, and thereafter included as part of the annual review of the Protection Implementation Plan

1As above

Enforcement of regulations that protect the snail and its habitat

Increase the number of wardens certified to enforce SARA

Continue to produce occurrence reports for habitat disturbance incidents and intrusions into closed areas

Continue to document outcomes of incidents i.e. number of warden responses, warnings, tickets issued, court rulings

Inform and educate the judicial system about the snail and its importance

SARA Law Enforcement training scheduled for Fall 2006

Results shared annually at Nov. RT meeting

Fewer human intrusions and enforcement actions and increased knowledge in the judicial system (crown prosecutor, judges)

Certify five wardens to enforce SARA by Fall 2006

1As aboveComplete annual staff orientation and training to: 1) increase awareness of how operations can affect snail habitat, and 2) inform staff about existing legislation and regulations that protect the snail and its habitat

Annual training (BNP, C&BNHS and Upper Hot springs) for PC staff, researchers and partners involved in interpretation, protection and facility operations. Other processes may be required for technical trade contractors at the Upper Hot springs facility

Researchers are required to obtain PCA research and collection permits with SARA Authorizations Communicate to staff successes of measures taken to date

Staff aware of how operations can affect snail habitat and activities permitted under SARA

Integrate snail awareness training and existing legislation into annual staff orientation and training packages by June 2007

SARA compliant research and operational activities

1

Thermal water flow stoppages, reductions

Population lows

Develop response plans for stochastic events, i.e., thermal water flow stoppage/reduction and population declines

Develop a response plan for the salvage of snail populations whose thermal spring habitats are in imminent danger of drying

Increase public understanding of threats

Monitor habitat during regular snail surveys in order to identify potential spring drying events

Develop response plans e.g., drying of thermal springs and population declines

Prepare public information packages detailing response plans surrounding flow stoppages and population declines

Monthly population trend information

Thermal water flow trends and physiochemical properties monitored

Response plan(s) and public information package finalized by Fall 2007

2Habitat disturbances at the C&BNHS

Increase emphasis on providing for visitor needs and curiosity

Increase awareness of visitors and their potential impacts Provide opportunities for visitors to touch thermal spring water without harming snails or habitat

Integrate visitor needs, and awareness of impacts and opportunities to touch thermal spring water around snail recovery in the C&BNHS Management Plan ReviewIntegration of ecological and commemorative integrity in the C&BNHS Management Plan
2As aboveExtend handrail pickets to all sections of the boardwalk adjacent to thermal spring habitatDraft an addendum to the approved EA (Environmental Assessment) for the installation of hand-rail pickets onto some sections of the C&BNHS boardwalkInstall handrail pickets by May 2007
2

Thermal water flow reduction, fluctuations, redirections

Local disturbances

Review maintenance procedures and operational protocols that may impact snails or habitat

Update Staff and Operational Protocols at the C&BNHS

Eliminate snow throw and delineate a no snow dumping area adjacent to the Vermilion Cool springs

Updated protocols by June 2006

Ongoing annual review of maintenance and operating procedures and protocols at C&BNHS

Reduction of disturbance from facility operations at the C&BNHS

Establish no-snow throw, no snow-dumping area by Oct. 2006

3

Population lows and genetic inbreeding

Stochastic events

Competition and predation

Develop an understanding of population thresholds below which extirpation is highly probable and actions that could reduce predation and competition pressures when snail populations are at their lowest

Increase public understanding of natural threats

Develop policies and actions in the event of local extirpation or species extinction by factors other than imminent thermal spring drying

Prepare an information package detailing protocols

Policies and protocols finalized by 2010

Public information package finalized by 2010

3

Limited or low quality habitat

Population lows and genetic inbreeding

Explore policies to address population lows and genetic inbreeding

Improve understanding of annual population cycles and the occurrence of genetic inbreeding

Increase public understanding of natural threats

Develop policies to address intervention of natural processes (e.g., population lows and genetic inbreeding)

Research questions to be addressed include supplemental feeding, modification of light regimes and genetic inbreeding and population cycles

Prepare a communications package to explain the policies and protocols surrounding species extinction

Policies finalized by 2010

Research questions integrated into the Research Implementation Plan by 2006

Actions are listed in order of priority among and within each objective. Primary responsibility for all the actions lies with Parks Canada Agency.

 

Table 4 (continued). Recovery actions required to address strategy objectives and threats - Objective 2: Restore snail populations and habitat within historic range, where and when possible
Priority (1,2,3)Threats AddressedGeneral StepsActionsOutcomes and Scheduling
2Limited or low quality habitatEnhance snail habitat within outflow streams at C&BNHS

Integrate snail habitat enhancements within the C&BNHS Management Planning Process

Examine the feasibility of reconfiguring the Cave East and West outflow streams and Upper and Lower C&B outflow streams into a series of pools and slow water-flow areas

Complete an EA to evaluate alternatives, mitigations and monitoring requirements for stream reconfiguration. The EA will also include an engineering and archaeological review, cost and socio-economic impact analyses, and impacts to other ‘rare’ thermal spring inhabitants

Prepare information and communication packages to target PCA staff and managers, local residents, stakeholders and visitors detailing restoration efforts and SARA

Undertake outflow stream enhancements

Monitor snail populations in reconfigured streams to determine success of habitat enhancements

Integration of snail habitat enhancements within the C&BNHS Management Plan

Completed stream reconfiguration project feasibility evaluation and EA by 2008

Outflow stream enhancements completed by 2008/09

Monthly snail population and habitat surveys completed and summarized following Basin outflow stream enhancement

2As aboveExamine the feasibility of introducing or moving natural structures or objects (e.g., logs, rocks) to increase habitat

Continue monitoring habitat and identify potential habitat enhancements

Complete EA’s to evaluate alternatives, mitigations and monitoring requirements

Complete discussion papers produced for annual Nov. RT meetings
3As aboveEvaluate the feasibility of restoring natural flows from the Lower C&B spring into the Basin Pool spring, and from the Basin Pool spring into the Basin spring outflow stream

Integrate restoration opportunities within the C&BNHS Management Planning Process

Complete an EA if the project is deemed feasible that addresses SARA preconditions, engineering, cost and socio-economic analyses

C&BNHS Management Plan finalized by 2006.

Evaluation completed by 2009

EA completed by 2010

3As aboveExamine the feasibility of restoring a snail population at Gord’s spring

Monitor habitat during snail surveys to identify if snails can be restored

Revise re-establishment protocols as required and draft an addendum to the approved EA for snail re-establishment

Thermal water flow trends and physicochemical properties monitored and reported annually

Evaluation completed by 2010 or earlier

3As aboveExamine the feasibility of restoring a snail population at the Upper Hot spring

Continue to systematically and accurately measure and monitor thermal water flows

Complete an EA if the project is feasible that addresses SARA pre-conditions as well as engineering, cost and socio-economic analyses

Flow trend evaluation completed by 2009.

Evaluation determining re-establishment feasibility completed by 2010

Actions are listed in order of priority among and within each objective. Primary responsibility for all the actions lies with Parks Canada Agency.

 

Table 4 (continued). Recovery actions required to address strategy objectives and threats - Objective 3: Increase knowledge and understanding of snail ecology, thermal spring ecosystems and threats to them
Priority (1,2,3)Threats AddressedGeneral StepsActionsOutcomes and Scheduling
1All

Analyse and summarize10-years of snail population, distribution and water physicochemistry data to assess trends and update monitoring protocols

Monitor snail populations, microdistributions, water physicochemistry and habitat disturbances

Continue dataset input, analyses and summaries

Continue snail population, water physicochemistry and habitat disturbance monitoring

Continue to engage partners to systematically and accurately measure water flow

10-year population trend completed and updated by March 2007

Assessment of future monitoring efforts completed by March 2007

Monthly data summaries from population and habitat monitoring incorporated into PC snail database

Annual progress reports on water flows

Analysis of relationships between water physicochemistry and population microdistribution trends completed by April 2007

1AllContinue to study the diet and ecological role of the snailRefine knowledge of diet and snail demographic parameters in order to enhance population viability analysesPublications of diet and snail demographics completed by 2008.
1AllDevelop a Research Implementation Plan

Continue to identify and fill gaps in knowledge of thermal spring ecosystem components

Engage thermal spring ecosystem and species experts

Continue to combine components into models that depict and explain natural system dynamics

By Nov. 2006, draft a 5-year research implementation plan that also has a 10 to 20 year projection identifying long-term research needs

Annually review the research implementation plan at the Nov. RT meeting; update and revise as required

1AllIncreased public understanding of snail ecology and thermal spring ecosystemsIncorporate updated knowledge of snail ecology and thermal spring ecosystems into a range of communications mediaInterpret snail ecology and thermal spring ecosystems in the C&BNHS media plan by 2008
1AllDevelop a Communications Implementation Plan

Integrate research, communications and protection and enforcement actions required to meet objectives outlined in the Action Plan

Increased stakeholder and public understanding of thermal spring ecosystems and compliance with snail protection initiatives

Key items to be updated, as required, include the PCA website and information packages designed for media and other partners

A work plan will be produced and presented at the Nov. RT meetings

By 2007 update the PCA website and information packages designed for media and other partners

Thomlinson study repeated in 2008

1AllHold RT meetings

Undertake an annual review of Research, Communications and Protection Enforcement Implementation Plans

Update implementation plans where necessary

Evaluate success of efforts in research, communications and enforcement at RT meetings held biannually (spring and Nov.)

Annual work plans to be updated at Nov. RT meeting

1AllValidate science through peer review and publicationContinue to present at national and international scientific conferences, communicate in scientific newsletters, and publish results in accredited peer-reviewed scientific journalsThree publications written by the end of 2006; at least 2 publications per year thereafter
1AllIdentify thermal spring dependent species under COSEWICDetermine list of thermal spring species that could benefit from a status assessment and provide information to COSEWIC Species Specialist SubcommitteesList of potential candidate species finalized by April 2007
2AllDevelop a protocol for entrance into the Lower C&B caveIdentify and address gaps in knowledge of thermal spring ecology by regaining entry to the Lower Cave and Basin CaveProtocol for entrance to Lower C&B cave completed by December 2006
2AllIncorporate thermal spring ecosystem component databases into one unified database

Continue to expand snail master database to include results from habitat monitoring, captive-breeding, and preliminary resource reconnaissance

Share species’ occurrence data with the Nature Serve Network

Begin combining databases in 2006

Data properly documented (meta-data) and archived by 2008

Complete unified database by 2008

Annually update unified database

2AllForward all data to Parks Canada’s RT Chair for archiving and disbursement

Continue to determine the best format for databases

Species occurrence data are entered into the Nature Serve network through the Alberta Natural History Information Centre

Information management flow documented and archived

Data forwarded annually; archived and distributed as necessary
3AllInvestigate the possibility of designing a multi-species or ecosystem recovery strategy for thermal springsBased on COSEWIC listing of additional thermal spring dependent species and the short and long-term research direction, begin dialogue with RENEW on feasibility of multi-species or ecosystem recovery strategy and action planBegin dialogue with RENEW by March 2008

Actions are listed in order of priority among and within each objective. Primary responsibility for all the actions lies with Parks Canada Agency.


2.4.2 Narrative to support recovery and action planning table

Protection and communication strategies were developed as part of the Resource Management Plan for the recovery of the Banff springs snail (Lepitzki et al. 2002b and Dalman et al. 2002 in Lepitzki et al. 2002a). Detailed plans that address communications, protection and research will be developed to implement this Recovery Strategy and Action Plan.

Habitat protection

Protection Implementation Plan: The Protection Strategy (Appendix 1 in Lepitzki et al. 2002a) presents information for each spring historically inhabited by the snail, identifies specific protection problems and offers potential solutions and will be revised and updated to form the Protection Implementation Plan. One specific addition will be the design and implementation of a standardized protocol to test electronic surveillance devices.

Habitat restoration, enhancement, and snail re-establishment

Assess feasibility to re-establish populations at the Upper Hot and Gord’s springs: Additional snail populations at historic locations would increase the security of the species, its probability of long-term survival, and likelihood of down listing. At this time, it is uncertain if restoring snail populations to the Upper Hot and Gord’s springs will be feasible due to recent water flow stoppages.

Habitat restoration and enhancement at C&BNHS: springs within the C&BNHS are regulated and modified. Habitat restorations and enhancements, especially to outflow streams, could increase suitable habitat, and potentially snail populations, at these existing sites. These projects will be undertaken within the context of the C&BNHS Management Plan review.

Habitat management

Finalize operational protocols and procedures: Management activities, particularly at the C&BNHS where water flow is regulated, can have an impact on snails and habitat. Many changes to maintenance protocols have been undertaken; however, finalizing operational protocols at this historic site is necessary to ensure that populations are protected.

Develop a response plan: A number of thermal springs have dried for varying lengths of time since the snail research and recovery program began in 1996. The frequency of drying events may be accelerating with global climate change. Without thermal spring water, snail populations will be extirpated. Drops in flow rate, temperature and conductivity usually foreshadow the drying of a thermal spring. It is recommended that a plan be developed to enable the preparation and maintenance of emergency habitat to be used specifically if any critical habitat areas are destroyed or are under severe threat, and to define the conditions and methods used to re-establish populations. The intent is to maintain a core group of thermal springs in the event of a catastrophic habitat loss that may affect one or more springs simultaneously. The response plan will include discussion surrounding predation/competition, supplemental feeding and light regimes.

Scientific Research and Monitoring

Monitoring: Monitoring of all extant populations and water chemistry (see Table 2) has been undertaken regularly since 1996 and is critical to understanding population trends and habitat status. A revision of the monitoring protocol is required. The frequency of continued population and habitat monitoring may be reduced as long as recovery goals can be attained. The measurement of selected parameters from thermal springs allows comparison with those documented by others in 1968/69 at Kidney and Cave springs and those collected since 1996.

Develop a research implementation plan. A research implementation plan that identifies and fills gaps in knowledge of thermal spring ecosystem components would allow for both short term i.e., 5 year and longer-term i.e., 10 to 20 year planning. Ecosystems components already identified include: water flow, water physicochemistry, hydrogeology, age of tufa mounds, and thermal spring dependent flora and fauna e.g. microbes, invertebrates, vertebrates, vascular and non-vascular plants. While data on each of these components have been collected since 1996, there has only been a preliminary attempt to integrate the various knowledge bases. The re-establishment of snails into two thermal springs may have changed the thermal springs’ biodiversity. Similarly, future restoration and/or enhancement activities could affect other thermal spring ecosystem components both positively and negatively. An annual review of the research implementation plan will ensure incorporation of new data as they are acquired.

Develop a protocol for entrance into the Lower C&B cave: Access has been regained into the cave at the Lower C&B spring. The cave serves as a restoration benchmark for an environment free from human impacts since the cave was closed to the public in 1985. The site was accessed in 2005 to evaluate flow dynamics. Potential impacts and mitigation resulting from entry will be assessed and implemented. Knowledge gaps of thermal spring ecology within the cave will also be assessed.

Communication and education

Communication is considered essential to the recovery of the Banff springs snail. All objectives of this plan will have a communications component.

Communications Implementation Plan: A Communications Strategy (Appendix II of Dalman et al. 2002 in Lepitzki et al. 2002a) has been developed to raise public awareness about the Banff springs snail and thermal spring ecosystems and has been the primary tool to implement recovery actions and will be revised and updated to form the Communications Implementation Plan. It targets specific audiences with the goal of reducing human disturbance to the snail. Many actions have already been implemented.


2.5 Critical habitat

2.5.1 Identification of the species' critical habitat

Critical habitat is defined in SARA as “the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species…”

Specific and required habitat attributes of the Banff springs snail include a warm (> 29º C), steady supply of thermal spring water containing a high concentration of dissolved minerals, noticeably high levels of hydrogen sulphide (Table 2), and a complex microbial community providing food and habitat structure. Most snails at most times of the year are found in the upper reaches of the thermal springs, however smaller numbers of snails are also found living further down in outflow streams (Lepitzki et al. 2002a).

Occupied habitat includes all areas where snails have been found during population surveys from January 1996 through December 2005 at all historically occupied thermal springs. Some of the outflow streams at the C&BNHS, while currently occupied by snails, have the potential for restoration to more natural conditions that would most likely result in increased snail numbers. Currently unoccupied habitat includes those areas where the species was historically found but not currently present: the Upper Hot, Gord’s and Vermilion Cool springs. There is also the possibility of other, as of yet unknown habitats, that could be considered suitable, unoccupied habitat. They would result from the redirection of existing or surfacing of new thermal water flows within the historic range of the species. Actions have been presented which address these potential habitat restorations and snail re-establishments.

Critical Habitat (CH) for the Banff springs snail is defined as all occupied habitat, including the thermal spring origin pool and outflow stream (Figures 4a through 4j). The contribution of the individuals or small number of snails (i.e. the outliers) at the extremes of occupied habitat to the self-sustainability of a population is most likely small but uncertain. However, given stochastic events and the possibilities of redirection of existing or surfacing of new thermal water flows, the outliers could become important in species’ recovery following such events.

Critical habitat is currently restricted to the aquatic components. The riparian and upland components of the broader thermal spring ecosystem may become part of the critical habitat definition as knowledge of thermal spring communities and linkages with the Banff springs snail improves. A multi-species ecosystem approach to recovery may be warranted in the future.

Figure 4a. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at Kidney spring in Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at Kidney spring in Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 2 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4a

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Kidney spring within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the northeast quarter, Section 23, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian,Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.561290° west longitude and 51.152442° north latitude;THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 120° in a straight line to a point at 115.561162° west longitude and 51.152394° north latitude;THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 210° in a straight line to a point at 115.561323° west longitude and 51.152225° north latitude;THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 300° in a straight line to a point at 115.561452° west longitude and 51.152274° north latitude;THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 30° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4b. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at Upper Middle springs and caves in Banff National Park

Critical Habitat for the Banff springs snail at Upper Middle springs and caves in Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 4 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4b

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Upper Middle springs within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the northwest quarter, Section 26, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.581494° west longitude and 51.163892° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 108° in a straight line to a point at 115.581005° west longitude and 51.163784° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 198° in a straight line to a point at 115.581553° west longitude and 51.162807° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 288° in a straight line to a point at 115.582041° west longitude and 51.162916° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 18° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4c. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Lower Middle spring in Banff National Park

Critical Habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Lower Middle spring in Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 5 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4c

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Lower Middle springs within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the northeast quarter, Section 27, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.582604° west longitude and 51.163777° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 96° in a straight line to a point at 115.582479° west longitude and 51.163767° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 186° in a straight line to a point at 115.582558° west longitude and 51.163406° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 276° in a straight line to a point at 115.582682° west longitude and 51.163416° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 6° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4d. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Upper spring, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Upper spring, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 9 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4d

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Upper Cave and Basin spring within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the northeast quarter, Section 27, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.590883° west longitude and 51.168310° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 98° in a straight line to a point at 115.590300° west longitude and 51.168249° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 188° in a straight line to a point at 115.590335° west longitude and 51.168118° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 278° in a straight line to a point at 115.590918° west longitude and 51.168179° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 8° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4e. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Lower spring, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Lower spring, cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 8 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4e

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Lower Cave and Basin spring within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the northeast quarter, Section 27, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.590783° west longitude and 51.168636° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 142° in a straight line to a point at 115.590611° west longitude and 51.168492° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 232° in a straight line to a point at 115.590770° west longitude and 51.168417° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 322° in a straight line to a point at 115.590942° west longitude and 51.168561° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 52° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4f. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Upper and Lower outflow streams, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail at the Upper and Lower outflow streams, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Description of Figure 4f

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Upper and Lower outflow streams within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the southeast quarter, Section 34, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.590083° west longitude and 51.169921° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 162° in a straight line to a point at 115.589831° west longitude and 51.169414° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 252° in a straight line to a point at 115.590205° west longitude and 51.169338° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 342° in a straight line to a point at 115.590464° west longitude and 51.169843° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 72° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4g. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Cave spring pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical Habitat for the Banff springs snail, Cave spring pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 7 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4g

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Cave springs pool within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the southeast quarter, Section 34, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.590627° west longitude and 51.168882° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 167° in a straight line to a point at 115.590573° west longitude and 51.168724° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 257° in a straight line to a point at 115.590752° west longitude and 51.168700° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 347° in a straight line to a point at 115.590806° west longitude and 51.168858° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 77° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4h. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Cave spring outflow stream, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical Habitat for the Banff springs snail, Cave spring outflow stream, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Description of Figure 4h

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Cave springs outflow streams within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the southeast quarter, Section 34, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.590669° west longitude and 51.170159° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 134° in a straight line to a point at 115.590352° west longitude and 51.169960° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 224° in a straight line to a point at 115.591188° west longitude and 51.169435° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 314° in a straight line to a point at 115.591505° west longitude and 51.169636° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 44° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4i. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Basin spring pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Basin spring pool, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Site 6 on Figure 2.

Description of Figure 4i

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Basin spring pool within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the southeast quarter, Section 34, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.591420° west longitude and 51.168884° north latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 167° in a straight line to a point at 115.591389° west longitude and 51.168787° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 257° in a straight line to a point at 115.591606° west longitude and 51.168759° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 347° in a straight line to a point at 115.591638° west longitude and 51.168856° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 77° to the point of commencement.

 

Figure 4j. Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Basin spring outflow stream, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park

Critical habitat for the Banff springs snail, Basin spring outflow stream, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park (see long description below).

Description of Figure 4j

Map plan of critical habitat of the Banff springs snail at Basin spring outflow stream within Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, within Banff National Park, province of Alberta. This map has been created by Parks Canada Agency from data provided by Parks Canada Agency and Dwayne Lepitzki. All coordinates referred to the 83 North American Datum. Being that all parcel of land, and lying within the southeast quarter, Section 34, Township 25, Range 12, west of the 5th Meridian, Commencing at a point at coordinates 115.593347° west longitude and north 51.169621° latitude; THENCE, southeast at a bearing of 92° in a straight line to a point at 115.592130° west longitude and 51.169576° north latitude; THENCE, southwest at a bearing of 182° in a straight line to a point at 115.592143° west longitude and 51.169428° north latitude; THENCE, northwest at a bearing of 272° in a straight line to a point at 115.593360° west longitude and 51.169470° north latitude; THENCE, northeast at a bearing of 2° to the point of commencement.

 


2.5.2 Examples of activities likely to result in destruction of the critical habitat

Activities that may lead to the destruction of critical habitat include:

  • Pipes and valves plugging with bacterial growth resulting in water level fluctuations or drying or flooding of streams
  • Failure of water flow control components such as valves, pipes, and pool liners may lead to flooding, drying, stranding or death of snails
  • Removal, trampling, or movement, of substrates (i.e. microbial mat, rocks, sticks, etc.) may lead to disturbance and stranding of snails
  • Trampling of the riparian zone could result in the removal of ground cover and erosion of soil into thermal spring habitat altering the physiochemistry and microbial community
  • Disturbance or break-up of floating mats may lead to stranding of snails and fragmentation of habitat
  • Alteration of water physiochemistry by siltation or chemicals from human skin leads to water turbidity and possibly death of snails
  • Introduction of foreign objects (e.g., ice chunks or litter) could result in fragmentation of habitat or become inappropriate substrates for snail colonization
  • Boardwalk maintenance including repair and replacement of components, removal of snow and ice results in debris within the thermal spring environment and physiochemical changes to the thermal springs

Operational and maintenance activities at the C&BNHS that may threaten critical habitat are addressed in a series of protocols and form part of the exemption addressed under Section 83 (4) of SARA (See Section 2.11).


2.5.3 Schedule of studies

The origin cave, areas underneath the boardwalk, and Billy’s Pool at the Lower C&B have not been thoroughly surveyed for snails (Figure 4e). Using the precautionary principle, critical habitat for the Lower C&B has therefore been extended to include these areas as they may contain snails. Actions have been presented to re-evaluate the CH at the Lower C&B pending new information from expanded population surveys. These tasks are expected to be completed by 2010.

The Upper Hot and Gord’s springs will need to be monitored for sustainable and appropriate habitat parameters and a source of snails determined prior to the re-establishment of snail populations to these springs. A flow trend evaluation will be completed by 2009 and the feasibility of re-establishing snail populations at these sites completed in 2010 (see Table 4).


2.6 Existing and recommended approaches to critical habitat protection

All habitats of Banff springs snail are in Banff National Park. The species and its critical habitat are protected under the Canada National Parks Act (S.C. 2000, c.32) and the Species At Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29). Parks Canada is the sole jurisdictional authority to ensure the continued survival and existence of this species. Banff springs snail and its habitat are also afforded protection under the Fisheries Act (R.S. 1985, c. F-14), as per the definition of "fish" under this Act. Although the Minister of the Environment under SARA is the competent minister for individual species in or on federal lands administered by PCA, the Fisheries Act still applies.

The juxtaposition of the snail’s thermal spring critical habitat within Banff National Park and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site requires that recovery can only be achieved if both Commemorative and Ecological Integrity are fully integrated. The following conditions will be applied to activities involving the C&BNHS:

  • Every effort will be made to consider activities and solutions that enhance both ecological and commemorative integrity objectives;
  • All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the Banff springs snail are considered and the best solution is adopted;
  • All feasible measures are taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the Banff springs snail; and
  • The activity does not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.


2.7 Performance measures

Evaluation of the overall approaches to recovery set out in this strategy will be largely accomplished through routine monitoring of the status of snail populations, hydrologic regimes, and habitat trends through time. The Recovery Strategy/Action Plan will be reviewed in five years to evaluate the progress on stated objectives and actions, and to identify additional approaches and changes that may be required.

Progress in meeting stated objectives and actions will be assessed against these targets:

  • Extant and re-established snail populations show ongoing persistence and sustainability over time;
  • Critical Habitat is fully protected
  • Monitoring is showing reduction or elimination of human disturbance;
  • The effects of dominant natural threats are minimized (e.g., limited or low quality habitat, population lows, etc.);
  • Snail habitat within outflow streams at the C&BNHS is enhanced and monitoring shows that snail populations are self-sustaining (2008/09);
  • The evaluation for reconfiguring the Lower C&B spring outflow pool and stream is completed by 2009;
  • The feasibility assessment of re-establishing snails at the Upper Hot and Gord’s springs is completed by 2009-10;
  • Surveys showing an increase in staff and visitor awareness of snail ecology and associated threats to its survival (2008);
  • The research implementation program has obtained results to urgent questions and is ongoing;
  • C&BNHS management and the Banff springs snail recovery strategy & Action plan respect Ecological and Commemorative Integrity values.


2.8 Effects on other species

Recent surveys show that thermal springs in BNP harbour high numbers of rare species among several taxa. In addition to the Banff springs snail, survey work found two rare damselflies, 28 rare mosses (including one new provincial record), three rare liverworts, and a high diversity of algal species. At least two vascular plant species appear to have been extirpated and one species of fish (the Banff longnose dace) have become extinct since the 1890s. The high level of species rarity, and fact that impacts have already resulted in extirpation and extinction, suggest that the thermal spring ecosystems are a sensitive habitat and many associated species would benefit from their protection.

Effects on other species were addressed in the Strategic Environmental Assessment and the reader is referred to this section of the document.


2.9 Recommended approach for recovery

Implementation The single species approach was chosen for the recovery of the Banff springs snail due to its distinct habitat requirements and threats. Also, the Banff springs snail is the only COSEWIC-listed mollusc in this area.

The entire habitat of the Banff springs snail is found within BNP which is managed by the PCA under the CNPA. A key provision of this Act states that “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks.”

While recovery is administered by one jurisdiction, the juxtaposition of the snail’s thermal spring habitat within BNP and the C&BNHS requires that recovery can only be achieved if both Ecological and Commemorative Integrity are fully integrated. Accountabilities outlined in the Species at Risk Act, Canada National Parks Act and the Fisheries Act and guidance from the BNP Management Plan and the C&BNHS Management Plan provide the overall direction for the Banff spring snail recovery strategy and action plan.


2.10 Socio-economic evaluation of action plan

The Banff spring snail recovery strategy/Action Plan proposes a wide range of actions to address strategic objectives for the protection, recovery and restoration of the endangered Banff springs snail. Recovery of a species at risk and protection and restoration of critical habitats associated with the thermal spring ecosystem on Sulphur Mountain in BNP will positively impact ecological integrity and enhance opportunities for appreciation of such special places and species by visitors and the general public. A key challenge in implementing this strategy and action plan will be in protecting and restoring snail populations and thermal spring habitats while maintaining commemorative integrity at the C&BNHS. The Sulphur Mountain hot springs were central to the creation of Canada’s national park system. Natural and cultural features associated with the springs are preserved and presented at the C&BNHS. While public use and enjoyment of the site, which exceeds 100,000 visitors per year, creates challenges for protection of both cultural and natural resources including the Banff springs snail and its habitat, it also provides opportunities to interpret and present the important cultural and natural history values of the birthplace of Canada’s national park system.

Proposed actions seek a balanced approach to reducing or eliminating threats to snail populations and habitats through protection and enhancement, enforcement, and education. Raising awareness through education and information is seen as the primary tool to improve both park staff and public understanding of issues surrounding snail protection and recovery and gain compliance with protection measures. Monitoring of snail populations and habitat since 1996 has shown a significant decline in human-caused disturbance in response to protection and education measures. Additional actions are proposed to enhance protection and messaging, particularly at the C&BNHS which is the primary location where visitors can observe thermal springs environments under controlled circumstances. Direct interaction with thermal spring environments is discouraged in order to protect these sensitive environments and species. Touching the warm waters is, however, an important part of the overall sensory experience for visitors, particularly in the Cave spring. While some actions are proposed to restrict visitor access to sensitive thermal springs, e.g., additional handrail pickets on boardwalks adjacent to thermal spring habitat, other actions are proposed to provide opportunities for visitors to touch thermal water under appropriate and controlled conditions so as not to negatively impact snail populations, thermal water or sensitive cultural resources. It is proposed that the evaluation of opportunities to touch thermal water be integrated with the C&BNHS Management Plan Review in 2006 so as to effectively meet natural and cultural resource protection objectives while continuing to provide a positive visitor experience.


2.11 Activities eligible for an exemption under section 83(4) of the Species at Risk Act

Subsection 83(4) of SARA allows for certain activities to be exempt from the general prohibitions of SARA, provided the activities are permitted in recovery strategies, action plans or management plans. In order for this provision to be applicable, individuals must be authorized under an Act of Parliament, such as the CNPA, to carry out such activities. Subsection 83(4) can be used as an exemption, to allow activities which have been determined to not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

The activities described below are permitted to take place under subsection 83(4) of SARA. They are also authorized by or under the CNPA.


2.11.1 Operational and emergency maintenance activities at the C&BNHS

This recovery strategy and action plan permits operational and emergency maintenance activities at the C&BNHS, as described below that may incidentally affect Banff springs snails and their critical habitat. Parks Canada employees and any other persons may engage in these activities if (1) they are trained for those purposes and (2) they are authorized to carry out those activities by the Superintendent of BNP or by the C&BNHS Site Supervisor.

The specific activities that are permitted in this recovery strategy / action plan and terms and conditions associated with them are detailed in Table 5 as follows:

 

Table 5. Terms and conditions for operational and emergency maintenance activities at the C&BNHS
Activity AuthorizedAuthorized PersonsTerms and Conditions
Moving snails that are stranded due to a sudden change in water levels at the Cave and Basin pools

C&BNHS staff

BNP Aquatic Specialist

Principal Researcher

Persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Take a bucket designated for the purpose of moving snails
  • Carefully fill it with thermal water while avoiding disrupting snails and snail habitat
  • Gently flush snails back into the pool environment
  • Report all incidents to the Site Supervisor of the C&BNHS

The Site Supervisor will maintain a log of all incidents and report them to the BNP Dispatch in a timely manner.

Removing Foreign Objects (garbage, cameras, etc) – that are floating

C&BNHS staff

BNP Aquatic Specialist

Principal Researcher

Persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Take a mechanical reaching device to carefully remove the object from the surface of the water
  • Inspect the floating object for snails, and if found, carefully flush snails with thermal water back into the pool environment
  • Inspect the floating object for eggs, and if found, return the floating object to the pool until the eggs are hatched
  • In no circumstances enter thermal springs habitat to remove an object
  • Report all incidents to the Site Supervisor of C&BNHS

The Site Supervisor of C&BNHS will maintain a log of all incidents and report them to the BNP Dispatch in a timely manner.

Removing Foreign Objects (garbage, camera etc) that are sunken

C&BNHS staff

BNP Aquatic

Specialist Principal Researcher

Persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Carefully attempt to remove sunken objects from thermal spring water using a mechanical reaching device as long as it is safe to do so without disruption to the microbial mat, the edge of the pool or stream, or bottom substrate.
  • Inspect the sunken object for snails, and if found, carefully flush snails with thermal water back into the pool environment
  • In no circumstances enter thermal springs habitat to remove an object
  • Report all incidents to the Site Supervisor of C&BNHS

The Site Supervisor of C&BNHS will maintain a log of all incidents and report them to the BNP Dispatch in a timely manner.

Cleaning Billy’s Pool Drain

C&BNHS staff

BNP Aquatic Specialist

Principal Researcher

If the grate is determined to be blocked with debris and snails are present, persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Carefully inspect the debris for snails and if found, pick snails by hand and place in suitable containers (designated for the purpose of moving snails) with thermal spring water
  • Transfer snails onto the vegetation in the appropriate habitat within Billy’s Pool area
  • Under some circumstances where it is necessary to physically enter the thermal water environment, snails immediately upstream of the grate are removed and relocated to appropriate habitat within Billy’s Pool area
  • Report all incidents to the Site Supervisor of C&BNHS

The Site Supervisor of C&BNHS will maintain a log of all incidents and report them to the BNP Dispatch in a timely manner.

Cleaning the Cave and Basin pool pipes and valves

C&BNHS staff

BNP Aquatic Specialist

Principal Researcher

If the pool pipes are determined to be blocked with debris and snails are present, persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Carefully inspect the debris for snails and if found, pick snails by hand and place in suitable containers (designated for the purposes of moving snails) with thermal spring water
  • Return snails to the pool
  • Adjust valves and clean pipes to maintain water level
  • Flush stranded snails back into the pool
  • Report all incidents to the Site Supervisor of C&BNHS

The Site Supervisor of C&BNHS will maintain a log of all incidents and report them to the BNP Dispatch in a timely manner.

Water removal for interpretation purposesC&BNHS staff

Persons engaging in this activity will:

  • Take a bucket designated for this purpose
  • Carefully fill it with thermal water while avoiding disrupting snails and snail habitat
  • Dispose of water in the waste water system

 

2.11.2 Justifications for activities carried out at the C&BNHS

Four populations of the endangered Banff springs snail inhabit highly controlled and built environments within the C&BNHS. This poses significant challenges for Parks Canada: managing critical habitat of an endangered species while at the same time maintaining a National Historic Site. The C&BNHS is culturally and historically significant representing the birthplace of Canada’s national park system. It contains infrastructure that directs thermal spring water through a complex and intricate system of pipes, valves, drains, and artificially maintained ‘pools’. Much of this infrastructure is critical habitat for the Banff springs snail and must be maintained for both ecological and commemorative values.

Clear procedures and protocols have been developed by Parks Canada to mitigate the effects of operational and emergency maintenance activities at the C&BNHS. They provide direction to employees and other persons adequately trained and authorized by the Superintendent of BNP or by the C&BNHS Site Supervisor on how to inspect and monitor areas of the NHS where the Banff springs snail occur, as well as how to respond to specific situations.

Alternatives to the various operational and emergency maintenance activities were considered during protocol and procedure development and alternatives with the least impact to snails, habitat and cultural resources were chosen.

The thermal springs and populations of Banff springs snail associated with the C&BNHS are integral to the ecological and commemorative values of the site. Proper infrastructure maintenance is vital to the long-term protection and sustainability of snail critical habitat as well as irreplaceable cultural resources and will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. Although snails may inadvertently be harmed or killed as the permitted activities are implemented, it is not expected that this would jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species. Regular population and habitat monitoring since the procedures and protocols were implemented in 2000 has shown the C&BNHS populations and habitat to be self-sustaining. The operational and emergency maintenance procedures and protocols are designed to protect snails and habitat as well as cultural resources and therefore do not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Footnotes

Footnote 3

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) provides advice to the Minister of the Environment on the status of species in Canada. For the Banff springs snail, this means changing the species status from Endangered to Threatened, Species of Special Concern or Not at Risk.

Return to footnote 3

Introduction