Burned Area Contaminants and Aquatic Community Research

Principal Investigators:

Larry Brown and Jason May - USGS-Water Resources Discipline

Roger Hothem - USGS-Biological Resources Discipline

Johnnie Moore - University of Montana, Department of Geology


Jennifer Gibson - NPS, Whiskeytown NRA

The aquatic resources of Whiskeytown have been impacted by an extensive history of mining. Past and present activities from within and outside the park boundary have left numerous dredge tailing piles, pits, adits, tunnels, roads, and acid mine drainage. Run-off from abandoned mines can result in elevated levels of metals in the streams, and high severity fire and post-fire activites may increase this risk.

To determine the major abiotic and biotic effects of the French Fire on resident stream communities and the upper reaches of Whiskeytown Lake, Whiskeytown staff partnered with the USGS-Biological and Water Resources Disciplines and the University of Montana to monitor the transport of metals from the French Fire. The drainages that burned in the fire included ten sites upstream of Whiskeytown Lake that were sampled for water, sediments, and biota before the fire as part of a previous contaminants project and an aquatic inventory assessment.

The information gained from these studies is critical for determining best management actions to minimize potential negative ecosystem effects from the fire. Through Burned Area Rehabilitation funding, the following objectives were developed to determine the downstream impacts of the French Fire and the post-fire activities on the park:
  • Estimate the effects of the French Fire and post-fire activities on the release and transport of sediments and metals from mining wastes in the Upper Clear Creek watershed.
  • Evaluate the effects the French Fire and post-fire activities on the aquatic habitat, resident biota, and water quality in the Upper Clear Creek watershed.
  • Provide management recommendations for the remediation of point sources of contamination and fine-grained sediment as well as the downstream areas of deposition.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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Whiskeytown , CA 96095


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