Increasing habitat for the local Arctic Grayling population

Many of Alberta’s native salmonids (the family that includes trout, char, whitefish and grayling), have experienced serious declines in their range and populations. One threat facing many of these populations is fragmentation, when larger reaches of habitat are broken into smaller reaches. Culverts are often a big culprit in fragmentation; when undersized, improperly installed, or at the end of their lifespan, culverts often create barriers to fish movement. Sometimes the barrier is a result of high velocity flows within the culvert itself, other times fish literally have to jump into a culvert when the outlet is hanging above the stream.

Last fall, Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) partnered with Apache Canada Ltd. to restore fish passage and improve the health of South Tony Creek, a tributary of the Little Smoky River near Fox Creek, AB. This project will benefit the local Arctic Grayling population by increasing the amount of available habitat.

Apache’s planned upgrades to the Bigstone Road provided a unique and timely opportunity to upgrade the crossing over South Tony Creek to something better. Rather than replace the existing two hanging culverts with the status quo, they were replaced with a much larger, open bottom arch. The new arch allows the water to flow under the road unimpeded, which also allows for the natural process of sediment delivery downstream. Most importantly, fish can now easily move upstream past the road to access more habitat.

Special acknowledgment to the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program, which is administered by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans for supporting this project. Thank you also to Apache for working with TUC to improve our fisheries, and to Repsol Oil and Gas Canada Inc. for supporting TUC’s national Reconnecting CanadaCampaign. The Geosynthetic-Reinforced Soil (GRS) arch was installed by Landmark Solutions Ltd, in collaboration with Terratech Consulting Ltd.

Photo Credits: (L) Apache (R) Landmark Solutions

Posted by: Trout Unlimited Canada on April 05, 2017.