After years of dredging and neglect, a restoration project is set to improve the Parvajoki River – which runs through the village of Kittilä in Finland – and promote a thriving fish habitat.

The project is being spearheaded by Agnico Eagle employees Ville Lahti, a buyer at the Kittila Mine, and Pekka Kämäräinen, an exploration geologist as well as Juha Talvensaari of AJH Infra. The goal is to boost the region’s brown trout stock by building natural, sheltered spots along the Parvajoki River for fish to spawn.

Last fall, Ville contacted the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, as well as Kittilä’s fishing cooperative, to participate in the project, which is being funded by Kittilä Mine.

“The people I spoke to at the at the Centre were really receptive to the idea and helped me locate the landowners who own areas alongside the Parvajoki. These owners also warmed to our proposal, which allowed us to start planning our project,” explains Ville.

In the Spring of 2019, a group of employee and community volunteers transported gravel and stones to the riverbank area. In mid-June, the Lappia Vocational College – which has a fishing-industry training unit in Simo – and Natural Resources Institute Finland conducted electrofishing survey sampling to determine the river population of various fish species. The sampling revealed limited brown trout as well as some brook trout in the Parvajoki River, as well as in the Ounasjoki River, which the Parvajoki river flows into.

Building new and natural spawning areas

In its original state, the Parvajoki River had a meandering course and a gravel bottom, but over the decades it has been dredged and its route has been straightened. As a result, the gravel bottom was covered by a thick layer of fine sediment, which has driven away the brown trout and other native aquatic species for years.

The restoration project is introducing wood, gravel, and stones to the river to create natural, sheltered spots for fish to spawn.

On the last Saturday of June, about 20 volunteers – most of them employees at the Kittilä Mine or members of our exploration team – built five gravel areas for spawning and began establishing another three. They also helped build eight wooden structures to create meanders and to guide the stream flow. Large rocks were also placed in areas of faster water flow.

Ville says, “With this restoration project we expect the brown trout population will increase possibly ten or twentyfold, compared to the current situation.”

During the Fall of 2019, with the spawning season underway, the team will closely observe the behavior of the trout in their new spawning beds, which already seem to be thriving. The team is currently making plans for summer 2020, when they will do more river rehabilitation work, conduct more electrofishing survey tests, and establish more spawning areas to restore brown trout to the Parvajoki River.

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