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TOGIAK: Cooperative Project Renews Salmon Spawning Habitat
Alaska Region, November 1, 2004
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The summer of 2004 was celebrated by the return of sockeye, chum, pink, and coho salmon to the Squaw Creek drainage in Dillingham, Alaska, after a successful partnership restored 15 miles of the stream. Dillingham serves as the headquarters for the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Three culverts installed in the 1970's had become impassable to salmon trying to return to their historic spawning grounds and juveniles trying to travel out to Nushagak Bay. At the downstream end of each culvert, the creek beds were eroded to the point where small waterfalls would form at low water levels, coinciding with adult salmon spawning in the summer and juvenile salmon migration in the winter. These barriers essentially reduced the available habitat to one mile of the stream.

In 1999, Togiak Refuge staff coordinated two separate agreements with the City of Dillingham and embarked on a cooperative venture to remove these barriers. National Fish Passage and National Partners in Wildlife funds were combined with local and state funds to reopen nearly 15 miles of potential spawning and rearing habitat for five species of Pacific salmon. The last culvert was replaced in August 2003, but it was not until this summer that the first National Fish Passage project in southwest Alaska was deemed a success. That's when salmon in significant numbers were once again observed returning to spawn in Squaw Creek to the delight of Dillingham residents. As The Bristol Bay Times stated in an article in September, the culverts may not be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but they serve an important function of providing access to habitat for spawning salmon. If you would like more information on this project, please call Fisheries Biologist Mark Lisac at 907-842-1063.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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