Fish Creek restoration earns Fort Knox operator the Tileston Award
Last updated 10/25/2009 at Noon
Kinross Gold Corp. subsidiary, Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc., recently received accolades for its reclamation of Fish Creek, a stream draining the Fort Knox gold mine area.
The Alaska Conservation Alliance and the Resource Development Council presented the Tileston Award, which celebrates resource developers whose success is measured both in their positive effect on Alaska jobs and economy as well as the state's environment, at a ceremony on Oct. 1.
The reason the efforts by the Fort Knox operator stood out to the environmental and resource development communities is that while Fort Knox has brought an estimated US$250 million economic boost to Fairbanks and Alaska, Fairbanks Gold Mining restored fish habitat and wetlands to areas of Fish Creek wiped out by mining that dates back 90 years prior to the modern gold mine.
"The area below the Fort Knox tailings dam was all previously disturbed by placer mining and is one of the areas where (Kinross) took on the responsibility of that reclamation. Working with Fish & Game, (the company) did that concurrent reclamation and established those wetlands and fisheries," Bill Jeffress, principle consultant for SRK Consulting (US) Inc.'s Alaska office said.
Mining on Fish Creek began shortly after Italian prospector Felix Pedro first discovered gold in the Fairbanks area in 1902. Less than a month after discovering gold on the creek that now bears his name, Pedro staked the discovery claim on Fish Creek downstream from what is now known as the Fort Knox ore body. Since that time the creek had been drifted, dredged, stripped with hydraulic giants and mined with dozers, scrapers and draglines.
Fairbanks Gold Mining and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, co-recipient of the 2009 Tileston Award, took it upon themselves to repair the damage done to fish habitat from these past activities in Fish Creek. Their efforts established a viable Arctic Grayling population in Fish Creek and reversed the waterway's listing as an Impaired Water Body.
"It is impossible to place a dollar value on the results of (the) reclamation efforts, but the intrinsic value of clean water and a productive fishery cannot be overstated. In addition to the current benefits realized downstream, the economic benefits will carry their strengthening influence far into the future," said Lorna Shaw, community outreach director for Fort Knox.