Over a five year period, Canmore Creek received a little more attention than most trout streams. Lots of different structures were built to enhance fish habitat. On the lower reach, major mine reclamation work was completed on the slopes of the old Canmore Mines #1 and #2. The following photos and video shows how things were improved over time.
A log wall design was used to create a slide catchment bench at the base of the slope. Over time the steep unstable slope would recover with native grasses, poplar and aspen. The main creek channel would be moved further away from the toe of the slope.
Once completed, the log wall was heavily planted with native poplar, aspen and willows, which were all collected as cuttings, from the surrounding area, grown until they had both roots and tops, and then planted on top of the wall.
Video shown below will give you an idea of what they site looked like in a 2009 tour.
The entire length of Canmore Creek was enhanced with pool and cover habitats for trout. The following photos were taken in 2009 on the upper reaches of Canmore Creek. Prior to the project design and implementation, an assessment of the habitat on the upper creek was completed by Golder & Associates of Calgary. One of the primary deficientcies identified in the upper reach was the lack of pool habitat. With this in mind, I designed lots of pool habitats into the plan.
All of the enhancement designs were detailed to last, with native vegetation used in the final landscaping. My method of landscaping involves the use of surrounding vegetation and sod clumps collected from different locations away from the stream. After a few years, the sites were blending in to the stream bank’s native riparian vegetation. I use rock and logs for heavier structures like log v-weirs and rock v-weirs, deflectors and sills. Smaller timber is used in the cover habitats. The use of this small timber is two fold, it is part of the original cover habitat, but it also is a debris catcher, for any floating branches or limbs that may be added over time.
Stepping down steep cascades in streams is possible by the use of opposing rock deflectors, or rock sills. If the rocks and sills are properly seated into the streambed, and stream bank securely, they will deepen the depth upstream and down, but reduce the consistant high velocity of flow. The rock sill in the photo below is doing just what it was desinged to do. On the stretch shown in the picture, the end result was a proper pool to riffle ratio for the type of creek that Canmore Creek is, in its upper sections. This stepping down design also enhanced the invertebrate habitat in that particular section.
It amazes me how much aquatic life there is in shoreline mosses and other vegetation growing right at water’s edge. Because Canmore Creek’s source is from a seep gallery in the Rundle Canal, there is not much flow variability in the creek, meaning that the vegetation grows right down to the edge of the water. It also does not have a very large catchment for drainage, in its own watershed.
The uniqueness of Canmore Creek makes it a gem worth looking after. It is presently situated on both private and public land, with a small historic site along its course. My work on the stream brought a lot of attention to the creek and this may help in its protection for future generations.
Spawning On Canmore Creek
A stream enhancement program would not be complete without creating a full functioning reproductive opportunity for trout. The upper and lower reached were both considered in the enhancement of spawning habitat on Canmore Creek. The upper reaches had really good spawning habitat , so other than having trout spawning on the tailouts of our pool habitats, there was little need for further spawning enhancement. On the other hand, the lower reach needed some major work and this would be part of the completion of the lower section’s habitat enhancement design.
In a previous study conducted by Brewin and Stabbins, over a period from 1989 to 1991, we did have some baseline to compare with. Kerry Brewin of Trout Unlimited Canada gave me some survey results that showed the following results for Canmore Creeks lower reach:
1989 – 39 trout redds 1990 – 38 trout redds 1991 – 40 trout redds
After our enhancement work was completed, a survey was conducted in 1999, on the lower reach of Canmore Creek. The results of that survey are as follows:
1999 – 53 Brown trout redds 14 Brook trout redds
Spawning did occur in 1998 as well, but no survey results were documented.