British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Copper Mountain Mine Wolfe Creek fish habitat offsetting plan effectiveness monitoring Poulton, T. L. S.; Hughes, C.


Wolfe Creek is a small tributary of the Similkameen River near Princeton British Columbian. Prior to 2020, Wolfe Creek conveyed flows adjacent the toe of the East Dam of the Copper Mountain Mine (CMM) Tailings Management Facility. To protect the toe of the East Dam and prevent encroachment into Wolfe Creek, CMM realigned 2.9 km of Wolfe Creek, of which 915 m was fish-bearing. To offset residual "serious harm to fish" as defined under the Fisheries Act at the time of project planning and in support of an application for Authorization pursuant to Paragraph 35(2) of the Fisheries Act, Hatfield Consultants and Copper Mountain Mine developed the Wolfe Creek Fish Habitat Offsetting Plan. The offsetting plan was designed to provide higher quality fish habitat than what was impacted by the realignment project and to restore downstream habitat historically altered by agriculture activities. Fish habitat offsetting features include large overwintering and summer rearing ponds, new meandering channels comprised of riffle-pool-run morphology, large woody debris, boulder clusters, and riparian vegetation. Construction of these offsetting features commenced in October 2020 and were commissioned in December 2020. A nine-year effectiveness monitoring program was initiated in 2021 to determine if the habitat offsetting features are functioning as intended, track the progress of habitat offsetting features towards meeting or exceeding the offsetting equivalency budget established in the offsetting plan, and demonstrate appropriate compensation has been provided to offset project-related losses. Results of year one (2021) effectiveness monitoring indicate that the offsetting features are providing suitable spawning, rearing, and overwintering habitat for target fish populations, and habitat offsetting equivalency targets have been achieved.

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