Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FIA Project 5013005

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Depositional sediments and stream temperature inventory and assessment within the Babine Forest Products Company Chart Area

Author(s): Schell, Chris; McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.
Imprint: Burns Lake, B.C. : Babine Forest Products Co., 2003
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Water Temperature, Environmental Aspects, British Columbia, Water Quality
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program - Innovative


This report summarizes the 2002 Babine Forest Products (BFP) Water Quality Inventory and Assessment Project conducted by McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. (MCSL), in the North Babine chart area. The goals of the project included: 1. Depositional stream sediment impact assessment of two FSR stream crossings using gravel buckets and surface fine sediment analysis (pebble counts) to monitor road crossing impacts on fish habitat. 2. Monitoring of stream temperatures at fifteen stream locations in the BFP chart area to collect ambient or baseline stream temperature data in north-western British Columbia. Future uses of the temperature data are to identify temperature sensitive watersheds within the BFP chart area to aid future forest development planning. One sediment monitoring site was located on Nellian Creek at 22km on the North Road. This is a known Rainbow Trout creek crossed by a bridge and a main haul road and has ongoing sediment concerns. Gravel buckets were used to assess interstitial sediments upstream and downstream of the crossing. Substrates were too large at the downstream site to use McNeil coring to evaluate interstitial sediments. Pebble counts were used to characterize streambed substrates and measure surface fines. The results of the gravel bucket analysis show that buckets in the upstream site contained significantly higher levels of fines (<6.3mm) than the downstream sites. Both sites were well below BC Water Quality Guidelines for interstitial sediments. The pebble count analysis found the average particle size to be 43mm downstream and 92mm upstream of the crossing. % surface fines resulting from the pebble counts were also significantly higher upstream and both values were well below the guidelines. The measured fine sediment levels were estimated to result in a 100% survival to emergence for salmonid eggs in Nellian Creek. The stream temperature monitoring program in 2002 consisted of 19 temperature probes deployed in 15 separate streams. This was the first year of monitoring in 5 streams, the second year in 9, and the third year in one of the creeks. The purpose of this monitoring is to collect background information on summer water temperatures and identify temperature sensitive streams in the BFP chart area. Of the 15 streams monitored, only one exceeded the BC Guidelines for temperature: Tildesley Creek, a sockeye spawning creek. This is the second consecutive year that this creek has been found to exceed temperature guideline levels for migrating sockeye salmon. Ling Creek had elevated temperatures, but still within guidelines for rearing Rainbow Trout. This system is being identified as temperature sensitive however, as the measured maximum temperature is near maximum guideline levels despite the fact that this watershed has not yet been developed. John Creek is another system of concern. While this creek is well below BC guidelines for stream temperature, it demonstrated a 2oC increase through a series of cutblocks. This increase will be transported downstream to Tildesley Creek, a temperature sensitive sockeye spawning creek. Due to this creek's role as a cold water tributary to Tildesley Creek, the 2oC increase is of concern. Five sites were identified that experienced rate of change greater than 1oC per hour. Twain and Ling Creeks demonstrated rapid increases during the morning and afternoon warming cycle. The other sites only rarely demonstrated rapid temperature changes, or the changes consisted of rapidly declining temperatures. Ling Creek has already been identified as temperature sensitive. Twain Creek should also be identified as a 'creek at risk'. Examining the results of this and the past years' temperature monitoring program, it becomes apparent that lake headed systems are more likely to be temperature sensitive than non-lake headed creeks. While this is an intuitively obvious result, it can serve as a useful guide for selecting streams for monitoring. Lake headed systems should be a high priority for future monitoring efforts in order to evaluate these high-risk creeks. Cool water tributaries to temperature sensitive creeks are very important and should be treated as temperature sensitive. This will protect the important cold water inputs into the warm water systems.
Chris Schell

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Updated August 02, 2006 

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