Great Bear River Environmental and Traditional Knowledge Baseline Program
Principal Investigator: Lennie-Misgeld, Peter (10)
Licence Number: 14887
Organization: NWT Hydro Corporation
Licenced Year(s): 2011 2010
Issued: Mar 16, 2011

Objective(s): To better understand the environmental characteristics of the Great Bear River and to support potential future development of hydropower on the Great Bear River.

Project Description: The main objective of the program is to collect fisheries and environmental baseline information to better understand the environmental characteristics of the Great Bear River and to support potential future development of hydropower on the Great Bear River. The program is not being conducted to support a specific project as there are no hydropower projects planned for the Great Bear River at this time. The program is being proposed to collect baseline traditional knowledge, environmental and fisheries information to better understand the environmental conditions of the river. This information may be used to support potential/future development and environmental assessments of hydropower projects on the Great Bear River.

Specific objectives of the program include the following activities:
- collect information on fish migration patterns in the river;
- collect information on fish habitat in the river and identify where important fish habitat is located; and
- collect information on the environmental conditions of the Great Bear River (water quality, volume, wildlife patterns and use, traditional land use patterns).

Fish sampling and enumeration efforts will be conducted by the following methods:
- Electroshocking;
- Beach seining from both a boat and by foot; and
- Angling.

Aerial photographs and or satellite imagery will be studied to identify potential spawning zones based on water depth, substrate (if visible), vegetation (if visible) and the extent of the littoral zone. Once potential sites are identified, a subsample of sites will be visited in the field to ground truth the mapping and photographic record. At each site, biologists will identify substrate types and vegetation, and the bathymetry of the near-shore area will be mapping through general inspection. The shoreline at each site will be recorded using a GPS. Sampling of fish communities at each site will determine if the area is used by juveniles of the target species. Beach seining, gillnetting and electrofishing will be used to capture fish. Gillnet sets will be limited in duration to prevent mortality. All fish will be identified, measured, weighed and released back to their habitat. No lethal sampling will be conducted. Non-lethal aging samples will be collected. Habitat evaluations will generally follow the guidelines as set out in the “Assessment Methods for Aquatic Habitat and In-stream Flow Characteristics in Support of Applications to Dam, Divert or Extract Water from Stream in British Columbia”. In addition, a habitat mapping exercise will be conducted through an aerial reconnaissance of each location.

The traditional knowledge component of the study will consist of holding interviews with elders and land users to document how the river is used by local people. This may include identifying areas of cultural and harvesting importance that are used by local people. Interviewees can choose to keep information collected during their interviews confidential or consent to having the information included in a study report.

The environmental baseline program on the Great Bear River will provide some employment opportunities for local people from the communities of Tulita and Deline.

This information will be used to help NT Hydro and local communities better understand how potential future hydropower development can take place on the Great Bear River. NT Hydro conducts ongoing meetings and open houses regarding hydro and renewable energy development in Tulita and Deline and will use this forum to convey the results of the study. The written report will be shared with Tulita and Deline once completed. NT Hydro has also sent the proposed scope of work for the study to the communities for review and comment.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 16, 2011 to December 31, 2011.