Experts worried about Northern B.C. landslide’s impact on ecosystems near Prince Rupert, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Impact of Ecstall River landslide to salmon runs'
Impact of Ecstall River landslide to salmon runs
There are growing fears about the impact of a powerful landslide in north central B.C. that has inundated a remote tributary of the Skeena River outside Prince Rupert. The timing of the disaster could not be worse given the fate of several different salmon runs. Julia Foy reports – Sep 17, 2022

There are growing concerns regarding a Northwest B.C. major landslide that hit a tributary of the Skeena River.

Officials said a landslide came crashing down into the Ecstall River, near Prince Rupert, on Sept. 1, 2022.

SkeenaWild director Greg Knox said it destroyed all of the salmon habitat in the upper part of the river system and washed tonnes of debris into the lower section of the river.

“An absolutely massive piece, a whole side of a mountain, crumbled into the Ecstall River valley,” said Knox.

“It really wiped out the entire upper valley and put debris all the way down into the river mouth, flooded the river system with silt and gravel and it’s likely that very few fish survived.”

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Knox said the tributary is an important spawning ground for more than 100,000 fish per year and this landslide may have wiped out this year’s salmon stocks in the area.

“There’s significant populations of chinook, coho, and chum salmon in the Ecstall River and there’s also sockeye salmon, pink salmon and steelhead as well as trout and eulachon,” Knox told Global News.

Researchers from the University of Northern British Columbia are working with provincial and federal scientists to figure out what caused the slide and how to prevent other glacier failures.

“There was a fair amount of rock and ice that suddenly descended an incredibly steep slope,” said Brian Menounos, a UNBC professor.

Researchers consider weather and temperatures as contributing factors to the cause of the landslide.

“Melt from the glacier during the warm spell and also precipitation was likely one of the triggers researchers are still trying to figure it out,” said Menounos.


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