Monitoring - Cultural Resources

Firth River Cultural Resources Monitoring

Rationale

Monitoring wind and water erosion to determine site stability.
Rock concentration and a stone plate.

The Firth River corridor has been used as a travel route and a hunting area for thousands of years. Evidence at some cultural sites on the Firth River suggest they were occupied as early as 8,000-10,000 years ago. The area was used more recently by prospectors and gold miners. Today, some of these sites may be impacted by humans, wildlife and natural processes such as erosion. Parks Canada monitors these sites to determine their condition, the rate at which they are changing and what is causing the impacts. This information helps with determining if action needs to be taken to protect the site, and which actions would be the most effective.

Objectives

  • To identify threats to cultural sites along the Firth River in Ivvavik National Park.
  • To measure changes to cultural sites along the Firth River.
  • To develop actions to protect these cultural sites where they are required.

Methods and Information Collected

  • The cultural sites along the Firth River are monitored every 5 years. The next site assessment will be in 2005.
  • Monitoring is conducted for 7 cultural sites downstream of Sheep Creek.
  • The cultural sites that are monitored were previously identified and described. In 1999, the sites were photographed and threats to the sites were identified. Photo-points were established at each site and ground stakes are used to measure rates of soil erosion.
  • Photographs and measurements of soil erosion will be used to determine if the sites have changed.

Years of Data

  • 1995 - original site surveys
  • 1999 and 2000
Remains of a Thule cobble house. Remains of a prospectors camp.
Remains of a Thule cobble house. Remains of a prospector's camp.

Results

  • The main threats to cultural sites along the Firth River are natural erosion, trampling and burrowing by animals and human disturbance.
  • Erosion may affect sandy sites that are on the riverbed. The sand is eroded by the wind, which reduces the size of the site and uncovers artifacts.
  • Sites found on the raised cobble riverbed are very stable and unlikely to change much over the next few decades.
  • The disturbance of sites by wildlife is a concern at sites near the river bank and on soft ground. Sites may be trampled by migrating caribou or damaged by burrowing ground squirrels.
  • In 2001 the monitoring protocol was updated.