In a recent field study conducted from May – June 2014, several post-mined and unmined areas were monitored to record the effect of the areas placer mining and hard rock exploration activities. Wildlife response on reclaimed sites has rarely been studied, and the Indian River Valley in Yukon, Canada, has been the host of over a century of placer mining and exploration activities which transformed the area.
It appears that mining activity has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of ponds and the overall water surface available to waterfowl populations. After studying old aerial photos before mining activity, water surface in the studied areas went from 5.8% of the general habitat to 20% of that habitat today.
Waterfowl and other species populations have been enhanced by the large number and diversity of ponds available in post-mined areas. Post-mined ponds provide habitat for breeding, foraging, staging and molting thanks to the great variety of sizes and shapes of these ponds. Statistical analysis showed that habitat variables, such as the presence of dense deciduous trees, marsh, water and shrubs, have an effect on the distribution and abundance of bird species.
After 1998, land restoration measures were put into place that required contouring and spreading soils. With this information that has been collected through study and observable data, new recommendations for placer mining reclamation would include: (1) Creation of various ponds with a diversity of shape, size and depth, (2) Shallow shoreline slopes to promote emergent vegetation growth and waterfowl habitat. (3) Enhancing natural re-vegetation.
Thirty year-old mined areas on the Indian River Valley are thriving, and the birds are an excellent indicator of that habitat quality. Lone Tree is proud to be a part of the Alaskan Miners association which monitors and reports environmental impact from mining activity. The ability to be a part of a greener footprint in the area is motivation for our commitment to the land we do business on.