Our Plan for Protecting Fish
From the mine site to the Kuskokwim River and beyond, protecting fish is a high priority for Donlin Gold, and we welcome feedback from residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) region as we move forward.
Protecting fish starts with protecting water.
Donlin Gold understands that water is perhaps the most valuable and important resource in the Y-K region. Streams and rivers provide food and transportation for residents. The Y-K region also has a plentiful source of fresh surface water, with about 20 inches of precipitation annually at the proposed mine site.
Our scientists have been gathering surface-water-quality data since 1996 and have collected surface- and groundwater-quality data quarterly since 2003. Currently, Donlin Gold’s Environmental Department routinely collects water quality samples from approximately 20 surface-water stations and 25 groundwater wells.
Aquatic biologists have conducted aerial salmon-count surveys during the chinook, chum and coho runs on Crooked Creek and its tributaries since 2004. Multiple baseline studies of the area’s streams and rivers have documented fish species, run timing and aquatic habitat.
A fish weir (known as a “resistance board weir”) was installed in 2008 to get more reliable counts. The resistance board weir includes a digital video recorder (DVR) to accurately record and count the fish. This video-counting method means there is no live-trap collection of the fish; they simply pass through the guidance structure and continue upstream. Resistance board weir and DVR technology has been proven by both the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be effective in streams that experience turbidity (the cloudiness or haziness of water) issues similar to those of Crooked Creek.
Aquatic biologists have identified different juvenile fish species in the Crooked Creek drainage, including sculpin, round whitefish, Dolly Varden trout, arctic grayling and salmon. In addition to sampling fish populations, aquatic biologists have also collected fish tissue samples and tested basic water quality.
These multiple studies conducted over many years are helping Donlin Gold design a safe mining project that protects the region’s waters and fish.