Experts are concerned about the impact of the landslide in northern British Columbia on ecosystems near Prince Rupert, British Columbia – BC

There are growing concerns about a major landslide in northwestern British Columbia that hit a tributary of the Skeena River.

Officials said a landslide crashed into the Ecstall River near Prince Rupert on September 1, 2022.

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SkeenaWild manager Greg Knox said he destroyed all salmon habitat in the upper part of the river system and washed away tons of debris in the lower part of the river.

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

“It really wiped out the whole upper valley and deposited debris all the way to the mouth of the river, flooding 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 a year and that landslide may have wiped out this year’s salmon stocks in the area.

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

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Researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia are working with provincial and federal scientists to determine what caused the slide and how to prevent further glacial ruptures.

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

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

“The melting of the glacier during the warm period and the precipitation was probably one of the triggers that researchers are still trying to understand,” Menounos said.

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