A biological monitoring survey was conducted on four stream sites and two wetlands in the
vicinity of a proposed mining operation in northern Minnesota. Fish and macroinvertebrate
community composition, habitat characteristics, and water chemistry parameters were examined
to establish biological condition at four stream reaches and two wetland complexes. Fish
assemblages were sampled in streams by electrofishing, and in wetlands with 24-hour trap net
sets. Macroinvertebrates were collected qualitatively with D-frame kick nets, and quantitatively
with Hess, Ekman, or Petite Ponar dredge sampling gear. Total number of fish and total lengths
per species were determined within each stream reach to estimate catch per unit effort (CPUE).
Macroinvertebrates were identified, enumerated, and the relative abundance and taxa richness
per site determined. Stream habitat characteristics and water quality parameters at each site were
summarized by point estimates along randomly placed transects.
Invertebrate community composition between sites was predictable, with two wetland
communities sharing similar characteristics (B5 and B7). The number of macroinvertebrate taxa
was similar among stream sites (B1, B2, B3, and B6), but much higher than found in both
wetland habitats. Three stream sites, including a designated reference reach located within the
same drainage area (B1), provided similar community compositions. The remaining stream
sampling location (B6) contained a macroinvertebrate and fish community that was unlike the
previous three stream sites, and more similar to the wetland habitats based on the fish community
composition. Fish communities among all sites were similar in respect to the functional
proportions of taxa present. This survey suggests that the biological characteristics associated
with stream and wetland sites sampled at the proposed NorthMet Mining Project site varied with
respect to the distribution of fish and invertebrate functional categories between sites, but the
overall community composition was typical of other systems in the region.