British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Trends in fish populations at the Leve Creek Mine Allan, Jim H.


The Line Creek Mine has been operating in the Line Creek valley in southeastern B.C. since 1982. Line Creek is a tributary of the Fording and Elk rivers in the Kootenay/Columbia basin and supports indigenous populations of bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish and rarely, introduced brook trout and rainbow trout. A section of the upper main stem of Line Creek was covered by a rock drain and portions of the main stem of South Line Creek and Line Creek have been relocated to accommodate mining operations. The fish populations in Line Creek have been the subject of irregular studies since 1975. The only major changes in fish populations have been an increase in the number of adult bull trout spawning in Line Creek and a reduction in fish densities in 1995. A 78% increase in spawning activity, as indicated by average number of redds, was detected between the period from 1983 and 1989 compared to the period from 1991 to 1994 and was attributed to a change in angling regulations implemented on the Elk River system in 1985. A subsequent 77% increase in the spawning activity which occurred during the period from 1995 to 1996 could not be attributed to a specific cause, although angling regulations may again have been the principal factor. Densities of juvenile bull trout, cutthroat trout and all trout decreased significantly in upper Line Creek and upper South Line Creek in 1995 due to a flood which occurred in June of 1995. Despite some losses of rearing habitat for juvenile bull trout, the adult bull trout spawning in Line Creek have not been measurably affected by the Line Creek Mine, but have been positively affected by changes to angling regulations.

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