USFWS
Fisheries & Ecological Services
Alaska Region   

 

Anchorage Fish & Wildlife Field Office
Habitat Restoration Program

Projects

Southcentral Alaska Coastal Habitat Protection
Fish Creek Estuary. USFWS The Service’s Alaska Coastal Program has forged a successful partnership with the Great Land Trust, one of Alaska’s 5 community-based land trusts. Using Coastal Program funding, the Trust has developed an impressive landowner outreach and habitat protection program in Anchorage, the state’s largest city, and in the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Alaska’s fastest growing population center. The Trust is also working with the Native Village of Eklutna to assemble biological information and pursue conservation easements on important fish and wildlife habitats along Knik Arm, a relatively undeveloped coastal area forming the northern gateway to urban Anchorage. Since 2000, the Trust has initiated or completed twenty habitat protection projects, an achievement recently recognized with a National Wetlands Conservation Award.

Lower Anchor River Conservation Program
The Anchor River hosts runs of all five species of Pacific salmon. USFWS The Coastal Program is working with the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a strategic land conservation program along the lower Anchor River, one of Alaska’s most popular sport angling streams, to protect critical salmon, steelhead trout, moose, and migratory bird habitat. Multiple coastal small grants have allowed TNC and KHLT to conduct landowner outreach efforts, and to develop GIS maps and associated ownership databases that prioritize conservation actions along the river’s lower 9 miles. Using these tools, our partners have protected key habitat throughout the watershed. We are now duplicating the successful Anchor River model along 5 other Kenai Peninsula streams. The Coastal Program also supported the Community Rivers Planning Coalition, located in the town of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula, to hire a watershed coordinator, host public meetings and workshops, publish a newsletter and other interpretive materials, and identify sources of pollutants entering the Anchor River, Stariski and Happy Valley Creeks. Additionally, the Planning Coalition co-hosted public meetings with Kachemak Heritage Land Trust to advance the voluntary habitat protection efforts on the Anchor River.

Willow Creek Streambank Restoration
Habitat restoration in progress on Willow Creek. USFWS Willow Creek is a productive clear water tributary of the Susitna River. Located within driving distance of Anchorage, the creek receives intense fishing pressure, with hundreds of fishermen congregating along heavily eroded streambanks on busy summer weekends. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Programs have participated in two projects on Willow Creek. One partnership, with the owner of a popular camping and fishing lodge, restored instream and riparian habitat along 400 feet of highly degraded riverbank visible from Alaska’s busiest highway. A larger, multi-year effort, initiated in 2002 in cooperation with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, will restore close to a mile of equally degraded habitats at Willow Creek’s confluence with the Susitna River.

Matanuska Valley Fish Passage Inventory
Perched clverts obstruct the passage of salmon. USFWSThis inventory, conducted by Alaska Department of Fish and Game using Coastal Program funds, examined all road crossings along 3 key salmon streams in the rapidly urbanizing Matanuska Valley. Computer modeling of water flow through culverts revealed that nearly 90% of 173 structures evaluated blocked passage for fish at certain life stages. Data from this project have already served to direct funding from the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Fish Passage Programs; several barriers have already been corrected.

Lake Miam ATV Trail Relocation
This project, undertaken by a partnership between the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District and the Kodiak All Terrain Vehicle Club, with Coastal Program funds, will close two miles of ATV trail that traverses the shore of Lake Miam, fords numerous tributary streams, and degrades sensitive wetlands habitats important for salmon spawning and rearing. The trail will be rerouted to more resilient adjacent uplands.

Jim Creek/Knik River Cooperative Management Initiative
With Coastal Program funds, this cooperative effort by the Palmer Soil and Water Conservation District, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Bureau of Land Management, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust, will undertake a suite of community outreach, education, and collaborative planning projects aimed at reducing on-going riparian, wetlands, and stream damage in a popular recreational watershed due to unregulated ATV use, dumping of trash and hazardous substances, and malicious fires.

Ship Creek Salmon Restoration
Road prism and collapsing culverts on Ship Creek. USFWSThe Service’s Habitat Restoration Program is partnering with Anchorage Waterways Council (AWC) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to initiate a comprehensive watershed and fisheries restoration effort on urban Anchorage’s Ship Creek, one of Alaska’s most popular sport fishing streams. The project is already reaping benefits, with a $3 million effort to correct a major fish passage barrier at the stream’s estuary slated for completion in 2003. This is the first concrete step in an effort to return the 29 mile-long stream to a more natural condition favorable to wild fish runs. AWC is now leading a multi-agency effort to redesign or remove 3 dams that block the creek further upstream. Upon completion of this multi-year effort, current runs of a few thousand salmon could increase to up to 50,000 individuals.

Copper River FishWatch
This partnership with the Cordova-based Copper River Watershed Project has established a volunteer-based fish habitat monitoring program for three major tributaries and three lakes in the Copper River watershed, Alaska’s fifth largest drainage. All of the streams are receiving growing human use, and the lakes are among the most productive sockeye salmon rearing waters in the region. Routine habitat sampling will provide a clearer overall picture of this extremely important anadromous fish system, and serve as an “early warning” system to guard against habitat degradation.

Kenai Brown Bear Conservation Strategy
The Coastal Program is partnering with Audubon Alaska and The Nature Conservancy to implement the key recommendations of the 2000 Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy. This strategy, drafted by a consensus group of agency and elected officials, industry representatives, and conservationists upon request of the Governor of Alaska, outlines voluntary actions necessary to preserve the small, geographically isolated Kenai brown bear population. The Coastal Program successfully competed for a grant from the FWS Landowners Incentive Program, which was matched by non-federal funds. The multi-faceted project is addressing community sanitation issues that result in bear mortality, implementing public education and outreach programs in coastal communities, and protecting key bear habitats on private lands using voluntary conservation tools. An express goal of this project is to implement proactive, locally based conservation measures to avert the need for future listing of this small and isolated population of brown bears under the Endangered Species Act.

Important Bird Areas of Cook Inlet
Cook Inlet coastal wetlands. USFWSThe Alaska Coastal Program has partnered with Audubon Alaska in its national effort to identify Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The IBA program is a proactive, voluntary effort to identify and highlight critical bird habitats on a regional basis. To complete its inventory of Cook Inlet, Alaska Audubon is using baseline information gathered by The Nature Conservancy in its Cook Inlet Ecoregional Plan, also funded by the Coastal Program in 2000.

 

 

Last updated: July 31, 2008