Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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40 Mile Creek Runs Wild

For the first time in over half a century, Banff National Park’s 40 Mile Creek runs wild.

For the first time in over half a century, Banff National Park’s 40 Mile Creek runs wild.

The eight meter high, 50 meter (164 feet) wide dam, with the capacity to hold about 18,000 cubic meters (635,664 feet) of water and sediment was partially taken down earlier this year. The event is an ecological good news story and will restore more natural creek flow.

On Y2Y's Radar

Y2Y has had its eyes on the dam for some time. “We identified the removal of the Forty Mile Creek Dam in Y2Y’s 2009 report on the health of the upper Bow River,” says Wendy Francis, Y2Y Program Director. “It was really exciting to see the breach being opened up beside the dam and to know that native fish can access upper headwaters again.”

40 Mile Creek dam. Photo: Wendy Francis

Banff National Park’s resource conservation manager, said demolishing the dam “will allow native fish to move upstream for the first time in over 70 years and the key species would be bull trout, which we know are in the system. We also hope it will improve spawning habitat downstream,” he added.

Demolition of the 40 Mile Creek Dam about to commence. Photo: Wendy Francis

So Why Now?

In addition to the cost, the big hold up was the negative impact releasing huge volumes of sediment captured in the dam during low flows when the work need to be done held the project back.

Last year’s June floods however washed out the Trans-Canada Highway, roads, homes and day-use areas throughout the Bow Valley and provided a rare opportunity to drain the dam. As a result the three of the walls of the dam could be taken down with relative ease and without discharge of sediment at low river flows.

We at Y2Y look forward to keeping you up to date about the changes tearing down this dam will have on the local ecosystem and fish.