The Effectiveness of a Diversion Channel in Providing Fish Habitat in NWT Barrenlands

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: fish habitat, fish, habitat, environmental compensation

Principal Investigator: Jones, Nicholas (3)
Licence Number: 13200
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2001 2000 1999
Issued: May 31, 2001
Project Team: William Tonn, Cris Katopodis, Garry Scrimgeour, Peter Steffler

Objective(s): Development in Canada's North continues to expand, potentially threatening the biotic resources of this environmentally challenged region. Recently BHP Diamonds Canada has "dewatered" a number of lakes and created a diversion channel to re-route water around two open pit mines. The purpose of this study is to compare the effectiveness of the diversion canal as habitat before and after it is enhanced with fish habitat structures and also in relation to natural streams in the area. Little is known about the ecology of fish in the Barrenlands of the NWT, where Arctic graying is an important species in the region's many streams and lakes. Understanding the habitat requirements of this species is the first step towards being able to protect or sucessfully restore (or replace) habitats that are threatened or affected by development, or to predict the effects of development. The proposed project will mix applied and basic research and provide a unique interdisciplinary experience by linking fisheries biology with hydraulic science, and contribute generally to the understanding of freshwater systems in Canada's north.

Project Description: The proposed research project will involve extensive photography, habitat mapping and inventory at Pigeon Creek, and measurement of young-of-the-year grayling in July and August in the channel, Polar-Vulture, Pand-Polar and Pigeon Creeks. Growth data will be used to determine the environmental health of the stream(s) studied. Approximately 100 young-of-the-year grayling will be collected per stream in early July (using a dip net) and again in late August (using electro-fishing techniques). A sub-sample of 30 young-of-the-year from the August sampling event at each stream will be retained for lipid content analysis.