British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

An innovative approach to monitoring the physical stability of constructed fish habitat using drones Ogilvie, J.; Topps, H.; Nikl, L.


In August 2014, a subsurface failure at the Mount Polley mine’s tailings storage facility resulted in a debris flow that scoured Hazeltine Creek and a portion of Edney Creek. Creek rehabilitation planning, design and construction commenced immediately following the incident. A two-phased approach was adopted to reconstruct the creek and restore habitat for fish and riparian wildlife. The first phase was to construct an erosion-resistant engineered channel to control erosion and reduce turbidity in water entering Quesnel Lake. The second phase was to re-establish physical in-stream and riparian habitat along the channel to support a return of biological habitat function. Following the construction of habitat features in sections of Hazeltine Creek and Edney Creek, drone imagery was used to georeference the locations of the constructed habitat. The aerial imagery had sufficient resolution to geospatially document each element of stream habitat, and therefore monitor its physical stability. This novel habitat monitoring technique couples the aerial imagery from drones with geographic information system (GIS) software to reliably determine the stability of each element of habitat and develop a database of those habitat elements. This combination of technologies enables an effective, relatively rapid and low-cost means of monitoring constructed fish habitats.

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