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Turtle Conservation at Ranney Falls

Turtle Conservation at Ranney Falls

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​The Ranney Falls Generating Station in Campbellford is in for some exciting new improvements –and already, one group of residents on the Trent River is enjoying the perks.

Map turtles, now endangered in Ontario, are just one of several beneficiaries of the proposed Ranney Falls GS upgrade, one of Corporate Business Development’s projects in Central Operations. The proposal seeks to add an additional 10 megawatts to the station’s capacity by replacing a small 0.8 MW “pup” generator that has reached its end-of-life. It would bring the station’s total capacity near 18 or 20 MW and help stabilize the power supply in the area.

“We’ve got an amazing small hydro opportunity here,” says Iskander Boulos, Senior Manager of Corporate Business Development. “We’ve got huge support from the community, from Parks Canada, and from regulators. This is a great success story.”

“Additionally, the environmental impact would be minimal,” says Gillian MacLeod, a Senior Environmental Specialist who’s worked extensively on the project.

That’s where the map turtles come in. A species of special concern in Ontario, they presented a unique challenge for the Ranney Falls station. The planned upgrades would have disturbed the turtles’ nesting ground, but thanks to the tireless efforts of Dave Brandt, Work Centre Manager for Campbellford, and the Ranney Falls station staff, the turtles have been able to move into a significantly larger alternative location.

“We know the turtles always return to the spot where they hatched, and we didn’t want that because it wouldn’t be compatible with construction activity,” says MacLeod. “The only suitable solution was to give them somewhere else to nest, so the new turtles could return to that area instead.”

A rehabilitation plan was drafted and sent Environment Canada for approval. Parks Canada also reviewed and approved the work plan, and by late spring, the turtle habitat project was ready for action. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the work centre, a new nesting area was soon created slightly downstream of the original. It was an impressive feat on a short timeline –the area had to be ready by early May, when the turtles’ nesting season began.

“The willingness of the plant group to consistently go the extra mile is just amazing,” says Boulos. “They’re the real heroes here. They’ve done so much to get the turtle project to where it is now.”

However, OPG wasn’t alone in the project. The company worked with the Trent Severn Waterway to double the area for map turtles, creating more valuable nesting ground downstream.

“It’s just a great relationship,” says MacLeod. “They let us come on their land and create this amazing nesting area. When you work together, you get things done.”

The Ranney Falls station has been operating on the Trent-Severn Waterway since 1922. Thanks to the upgrade project, both the station and the map turtles can continue to enjoy long and successful legacies on the site. It’s one more way OPG employees are striving to protect Ontario’s biodiversity.