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Muskeg Lake


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Westlock County AB
Canada

Muskeg Lake


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Location

Parkland County AB
Canada

An intensive study of the fish fauna of the Muskeg River watershed of northeastern Alberta Vol I (Interim report)


Author(s): Bond, W. A., & Machniak K.

Year: 1977

Abstract:
The fish fauna of the Muskeg River was studied during spring and summer, 1976. Migrations of non-resident fish from the Athabasca River into the Muskeg River watershed were monitored through the use of a two-way counting fence between 28 April and 30 July. A total of 6153 fish were passed through the upstream trap of which white suckers (46%) and longnose suckers (46%) comprised the vast majority. Arctic grayling (5%) and northern pike (2%) accounted for most of the remainder. After spawning in the lower reaches of the Muskeg River, migrant suckers of both species returned to the Athabasca River. Arctic grayling, however, remained in the tributary throughout the summer. Floy tags applied to 2269 migrant fish yielded a 1.2% return rate for fish recaptured outside the Muskeg watershed. Small fish collections made throughout the summer demonstrated the importance of the lower Muskeg drainage as a rearing area for young of-the year white suckers, longnose suckers and Arctic grayling. Lake chub, slimy sculpin and brook stickleback were the most abundant forage fish species.

An intensive surface water quality study of the Muskeg river watershed. Volume 1, Water chemistry


Author(s): Akena, A. M.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
This document is part of a series of research reports that describes the results of investigations funded under the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program, which was established by agreements of the Governments of Alberta and Canada in February 1975. This ten year program was designed to direct and co-ordinate research projects concerned with the environmental effects of development of the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta. This report documents and appraises baseline water chemical quality conditions of a lake and streams within the Muskeg River Watershed.

Aquatic biophysical inventory of major tributaries in the AOSERP study area. Volume 1: Summary report


Year: 1980

Abstract:
This report summarizes and compares the physical charac- teristics of nine streams within five watersheds (Firebag, Muskeg, Steepbank, MacKay, and Ells) in the AOSERP study area. The distri- butions and relative abundances of fish in each stream and watershed are also described and related to the physical characteristics that tend to promote or limit sport fish production. The system of reach classification and biophysical measurements developed by Chamberlin and Humphries (1977) was used throughout the present study. The detailed results of this study are presented in the accompanying atlas that forms Volume II of this report (Walder et al. 1980). From 16 to 24 species of fish were found in each watershed. Forage fish (lake chub, pearl dace, longnose dace, trout-perch, brook stickleback, slimy sculpin) and white and longnose suckers were the most abundant fish in every stream or river studied. The most important and widespread sport fish present were (in order of decreasing abundance) arctic grayling, northern pike, and walleye. Other species of sport fish (burbot, lake whitefish, mountain whitefish, yellow perch, Dolly Varden, and goldeye) were found in small numbers, and were almost always confined to the lower reaches of the rivers in proximity to the Athabasca River. A good correlation was found between physical characteristics of streams and the distributions and abundances of fish. Present information suggests that the following general ratings for sport fish potential can be applied to the five water- sheds that were studied: Firebag River watershed, excellent; Muskeg River watershed, poor to moderate; Steepbank River, moderate; MacKay River watershed, poor to p.ossibly moderate; and Ells River, excellent. These ratings are based only-on comparisons among the studied watersheds; they do not consider productivity of other water-or beyond the boundaries of the AOSERP study area.

Aquatic biophysical inventory of major tributaries in the AOSERP study area. Volume I: Summary report


Year: 1980

Abstract:
This report summarizes and compares the physical characteristics of nine streams within five watersheds (Firebag, Muskeg, Steepbank, MacKay, and Ells) in the AOSERP study area. The distributions and relative abundances of fish in each stream and watershed are also described and related to the physical characteristics that tend to promote or limit sport fish production. The system of reach classification and biophysical measurements developed by Chamberlin and Humphries (1977) was used throughout the present study. The detailed results of this study are presented in the accompanying atlas that forms Volume II of this report (Walder et al. 1980). From 16 to 24 species of fish were found in each watershed. Forage fish (lake chub, pearl dace, longnose dace, trout-perch, brook stickleback, slimy sculpin) and white and longnose suckers were the most abundant fish in every stream or river studied. The most important and widespread sport fish present were (in order of decreasing abundance) arctic grayling, northern pike, and walleye. Other species of sport fish (burbot, lake whitefish, mountain whitefish, yellow perch, Dolly Varden, and goldeye) were found in small numbers, and were almost always confined to the lower reaches of the rivers in proximity to the Athabasca River. A good correlation was found between physical characteristics of streams and the distributions and abundances of fish. Present information suggests that the following general ratings for sport fish potential can be applied to the five watersheds that were studied: Firebag River watershed, excellent; Muskeg River watershed, poor to moderate; Steepbank River, moderate; MacKay River watershed, poor to possibly moderate; and Ells River, excellent. These ratings are based only-on comparisons among the studied watersheds; they do not consider productivity of other watersheds within or beyond the boundaries of the AOSERP study area.

As long as the rivers flow: Athabasca River knowledge, use and change


Author(s): Candler, C., Olson R., & Deroy S.

Year: 2010

Abstract:
"The Study confirms that, for members of both ACFN and MCFN, the Athabasca River continues to be central to their lives, their ability to access their territories, and their conception of themselves as aboriginal peoples, despite historical change. Use of the river by the participants is still strong and diverse, and while use has generally declined, it has declined in some areas more than others. Use for drinking water, trapping and teaching have declined more than use for hunting, transportation, and cultural/spiritual and wellness practices. The Study suggests that reduced quantity and quality of water in the Athabasca is having adverse effects on the ability of ACFN and MCFN members to access territories, and to practice their aboriginal and Treaty rights, including hunting, trapping, fishing and related activities.

Background air and precipitation chemistry


Year: 1978

Abstract:
In March 1976, the first in a series of intensive field studies was carried out in the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program study area in northeastern Alberta to examine the fine structure of the atmosphere and dispersion characteristics under winter conditions. The study comprised several co-ordinated sets of measurements over a two week period. These included: minisonde flights, tethersonde vertical profiles, acoustic sounder and delta-T sonde profiles, correlation spectrometer and ground level sulphur dioxide measurements, plume rise photography and background air and precipitation chemistry. Plume dispersion measurements made by aircraft were co-ordinated with the study and are reported in a separate publication. All measurements, except those for background air chemistry, were made within 20 km of Mildred Lake taking in the present oil sands processing facility of Great Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. and the future production site of Syncrude Canada Ltd. The study was successful in identifying unique features of the winter environment of the area such as diurnal formation and breakup of inversion layers, the effects of the river valley on circulation patterns, plume characteristics, pollutant deposition patterns in the snowpack and background levels of gases and particulates.

Cree can 'taste' rich settlement


Author(s): Fisher, M.

Year: 1985

Abstract:
Many other bands in this prime fur-trading region reached agreement with the Government in the late nineteenth century when Treaties 6 and 7 were signed. But this Cree band did not surrender its claim to the land "because the elders had heard Indians were being herded on to reserves and they didn't want this," Mr. [Archie Waquan] said. "I'm glad they waited." The wait has not always been pleasant.

Does the Alberta tar sands industry pollute? The scientific evidence


Author(s): Timoney, K. P., & Lee P.

Year: 2009

Abstract:
The extent to which pollution from tar sands industrial activities in northeastern Alberta, Canada affects ecosystem and human health is a matter of growing concern that is exacerbated by uncertainty. In this paper we determine whether physical and ecological changes that result from tar sands industrial activities are detectable. We analyze a diverse set of environmental data on water and sediment chemistry, contaminants in wildlife, air emissions, pollution incidents, traditional ecological observations, human health, and landscape changes from the Athabasca Tar Sands region, Canada.

Evaluation of the capability of aggregated oil sands mine tailings: Biological indicators


Year: 2003

Abstract:
An experiment was initiated in 1997 in northeast Alberta at the Syncrude Canada Ltd. Mildred Lake site to field test an innovative technique for reclamation of oil sand mine tailings. This technique was used to create an aggregated soil material from oil sand tailings. A plant community was successfully established on the soil material created by this technique. However, whether the site would be capable of supporting a self-sustainable ecosystem for the long-term remained a challenging issue. We evaluated the capability of these aggregated oil sand tailings by using biological indicators of the abundance and diversity of soil microbial biomass. Soil respiration rates and soil microbial biomass measurements were used to assess the abundance and activities of soil microbial communities. The ability of soil microbial biomass to utilize a diverse range of carbon substrates was used to assess the diversity of soil microbial communities. Soil biological activity increased with increasing growth of plant biomass and over time. Increasing the amount of peat moss or muskeg incorporated into the soil during reclamation resulted in higher organic carbon and nitrogen content and caused an increase in abundance and diversity of soil microbial biomass. These results indicate that measurements of soil respiration and substrate utilization by soil microbial communities may be used as biological indicators for assessing the capability of reclaimed soils.

Experimental assessment of Athabasca River cohesive sediment deposition dynamics


Year: 2011

Abstract:
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) originating from natural sources, and potentially from the Athabasca Oil Sands development, are of concern for the Athabasca River and Lake Athabasca delta ecosystems. In order to model the transport of fine sediments (and associated PAHs), it is important to describe the sediment dynamics within the river system. Flocs possess different settling characteristics compared to individual particles. A key aspect in modelling floc settling behaviour is the mathematical linkage of the floc density to floc size. In this paper, a rotating annular flume is used to determine the settling characteristics of Muskeg River (a tributary of the Athabasca River) sediments under different shear conditions. Simulations of the settling and flocculation behaviour of these sediments were used to calibrate a density vs. floc size model. A relationship of the parameters relating floc size and density with the fractal dimension F shows that as diameter increases flocs become weaker. Recommendations for the practical application of the model are further formulated in this paper. The deposition tests offer a quantitative measure of the relative amount of sediment that is likely to be transported through the river for given flow conditions. Experimental assessment of Athabasca River cohesive sediment deposition dynamics. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257408565_Experimental_assessment_of_Athabasca_River_cohesive_sediment_deposition_dynamics [accessed Dec 18, 2015].

Food habits of mink (Mustela vison) and otter (Lutra canadensis) in northeastern Alberta


Author(s): Gilbert, F. F.

Year: 1982

Abstract:
Scats of mink (Mustela vison) and otter (Lutra cawdensis) in northeastern Alberta contained different food items in different habitat types according to type of water body. Brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans) was the most frequently encountered food item in scats of both species from a drainage system dominated by lakes and for otter from a second drainage system dominated by streams. However, mink had varying hare (Lepusamericanus) as their primary food item by frequency of occurrencein this latter situation and mammalian items were significantly ( P < 0.01) more frequent. Otter scats contained more fish and invertebrates ( P < 0.01) and fewer mammals ( P < 0.01) and birds ( P < 0.05) than mink scats. Both otters and mink appeared to exploit avian species to a greater degree ( P < 0.01) in the lake-dominated drainage. The frequency of avain remains in otter scats was very high and probably reflected high utilization of breeding and moulting waterfowl.

Governance of impacts to land and water resources from oil sands development in Alberta


Author(s): Jordaan, S. M.

Year: 2011

Abstract:
Transitions to unconventional fossil fuels may result in significant impacts to land and water. This review describes the governance challenges and successes related to land and water impacts of oil sands development in Alberta, resulting in four key conclusions. First, the province of Alberta appears to have developed robust systems for governance of impacts that are relatively easy to predict and measure over short timescales, such as water use. However, it has been less successful in developing governance mechanisms that deal with more complicated and subtle tasks such as those concerning cumulative effects, landscape fragmentation and water quality. Second, there are large variations in management on crown and aboriginal lands. Development on land surrounding Aboriginal territory may infringe upon constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty rights and requires consultation with Aboriginal communities. Third, though impacts from oil sands development can be large, it is important to understand them in relative sense, particularly for water use. Looking across the whole province, agricultural water use has resulted in degraded watersheds in the southern portions of the province where water is scarce, leading to the emergence of water markets. By contrast, water withdrawn for oil sands development is from watersheds that do not have similar water constraints. Finally, there is large technological potential for mitigating water impacts. Whether emerging technologies are used will depend on if water policies can keep at the same pace as technological development. This review demonstrates that governance can be challenging where impacts are not easily quantified. One key recommendation is to ensure independent scientific research is undertaken to resolve disputes surrounding the magnitude of impacts, such as changes to water quality. Such research can support the development of governance systems. This review may be used more broadly to develop policies and regulations in other regions that are experiencing similar environmental impacts from growing unconventional fossil fuel production.

Citation:
Jordaan, S. M. (2011).  Governance of impacts to land and water resources from oil sands development in Alberta. Unpublished manuscript, International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego, California. Retrieved from ilar. ucsd. edu. Abstract

Guide to the Athabasca oil sands area


Year: 1973

Abstract:
The oil sands area is located in northeastern Alberta adjacent to the Canadian Shield (Fig. 1). The main drainage of the area is provided by the Athabasca-Clearwater system, the valleys of which are incised into a broad, muskeg-covered interior plain to depths of 200 to 300 feet. The tributary streams originate in three highland areas (Fig. 2): the Birch Mountains to the west of the Athabasca River which rise to about 2,700 feet, Stony Mountain south of Fort McMurray which reaches an elevation of 2,500 feet, and Muskeg Mountain to the east of the Athabasca River which rises gradually to 1,900 feet. To the southwest of the area, between Birch Mountain and Stony Mountain and north of the eastward flowing Athabasca River, is a subdued highland area with gentle slopes called the Thickwood Hills. These hills give rise to northward flowing tributaries of the MacKay River, and a few short streams flowing southward to the Athabasca. A number of shallow lakes are located in the area, the largest and most numerous of which are located on the top of the Birch Mountains and form an interconnected chain of lakes, which flow into the Ells River. These are called Eaglenest, Gardiner, and Namur Lakes. The only lakes of any size south of Fort McMurray are Algar and Gregoire Lakes. McClelland Lake, which is located in the lowlands northeast of Bitumount, is an area of internal drainage.

In Conflict


Author(s): Cryderman, K.

Year: 2013

Abstract:
"Any time that we have differences with somebody like [Jim Boucher], it's a cause for concern," he said. "I think he's been a very balanced First Nation leader with respect to the oil sands industry," Mr. [David Collyer] said. "What I would encourage is for all the parties concerned to try to find a constructive way through it."

Citation:

Interim report on a hydrogeological investigation of the Muskeg River basin, Alberta


Author(s): Schwartz, F. W.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
The Muskeg River in northeast Alberta drains a large highland area east of the Athabasca River. The availability of thick, oil sands deposits at depths less than 30 m in parts of the watershed makes this area an obvious candidate for future mining development. The results of this detailed, chemically-based study of waters from major portions of the hydrologic cycle--precipitation, surface water, and groundwater, in addition to providing descriptive details of pre-mining baseline states has provided useful information about groundwater and surface water processes in the watershed. Baseflow, as it is known in streams in the southern part of the province, probably exists during a few winter months when standing water in muskeg and shallow lakes is frozen and ceases to contribute to streamflow. During times of the year when the muskegs are unfrozen they constitute the bulk of the streamflow. The results of chemically-based hydrograph separation techniques indicate that 12 to 40.% of streamflow during the late spring, summer and fall months consists of groundwater with the remainder coming from lake and muskeg drainage, as well as direct precipitation on the stream channels. This preliminary report will form a basis for more detailed evaluation on systems in the Muskeg River basin.

PAH distributions in sediments in the oil sands monitoring area and western Lake Athabasca: Concentration, composition and diagnostic ratios


Year: 2016

Abstract:
Oil sands activities north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, have intensified in recent years with a concomitant debate as to their environmental impacts. The Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program and its successor, the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM), are the primary aquatic programs monitoring this industry. Here we examine sediment data (collected by Ekman grabs) to investigate trends and sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), supplementing these data with sediment core studies. Total PAH (ΣPAH) concentrations were highest at Shipyard Lake (6038 ± 2679 ng/g) in the development center and lower at Isadore's Lake (1660 ± 777 ng/g) to the north; both lakes are in the Athabasca River Valley and lie below the developments. ΣPAH concentrations were lower (622-930 ng/g) in upland lakes (Kearl, McClelland) located further away from the developments. ΣPAH concentrations increased at Shipyard Lake (2001-2014) and the Ells River mouth (1998-2014) but decreased in nearshore areas at Kearl Lake (2001-2014) and a Muskeg River (2000-2014) site. Over the longer term, ΣPAH concentrations increased in Kearl (1934-2012) and Sharkbite (1928-2010) Lakes. Further (200 km) downstream in the Athabasca River delta, ΣPAH concentrations (1029 ± 671 ng/g) increased (1999-2014) when %sands were included in the regression model; however, 50 km to the east, concentrations declined (1926-2009) in Lake Athabasca. Ten diagnostic ratios based on anthracene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benz[a]anthracene, chrysene, indeno[123-cd]pyrene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, dibenzothiophene and retene were examined to infer spatial and temporal trends in PAH sources (e.g., combustion versus petrogenic) and weathering. There was some evidence of increasing contributions of unprocessed oil sands and bitumen dust to Shipyard, Sharkbite, and Isadore's Lakes and increased combustion sources in the Athabasca River delta. Some CCME interim sediment quality guidelines were exceeded, primarily in Shipyard Lake and near presumed natural bitumen sources.

Potential productivity of black bear habitat of the AOSERP study area


Author(s): Young, B. F.

Year: 1978

Abstract:
Potential black bear (Ursus americanus) production was determined for the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area using information obtained by radio-telemetry on forest cover use by bears during the two years of study at Cold Lake, Alberta. Expected densities for each of five forest over classes were calculated using the Cold Lake data. The areas of individual townships comprised by each of the cover classes were determined and multiplied by the expected bear density of each class to provide a population estimate for each township. The crude average bear density for the AOSERP study area, including water areas, was 0.18 per km2 assuming total avoidance of muskeg areas and 0.25 per km2 assuming use of muskeg. The potential entire population estimate was calculated as 5188 and 7431 bears using the two methods. The most productive bear habitat was located along the eastern and southern edges of the Birch Mountains and in the Gregoire Lake area. The poorest potential was in the Thickwood Hills and in the northeastern corner of the study area. Although final population estimates may be biased, township population estimates should provide at least a valid index for identifying important areas of black bear habitat.