USFWS
Fisheries & Ecological Services
Alaska Region   

 

Fairbanks Fish & Wildlife Field Office
Habitat Restoration

In the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, we work with private and other non-federal landowners who wish to voluntarily restore fish and wildlife habitats on their land. This program emphasizes reestablishment of native vegetation and natural ecological systems that benefit fish and wildlife while meeting the needs and desires of private landowners. We offer informal advice on the design and location of potential restoration projects, and pay up to 50% of project costs. The Fish Passage Program provides technical assistance and federal funds to remove, replace, or retrofit culverts, weirs, abandoned dams or other structures that impede fish movement. This program also supports surveys of fish barriers within important watersheds. Funds may be used for projects on both public and private lands.

In the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, we work with private and other non-federal landowners who wish to voluntarily restore fish and wildlife habitats on their land. This program emphasizes reestablishment of native vegetation and natural ecological systems that benefit fish and wildlife while meeting the needs and desires of private landowners. We offer informal advice on the design and location of potential restoration projects, and pay up to 50% of project costs. The Fish Passage Program provides technical assistance and federal funds to remove, replace, or retrofit culverts, weirs, abandoned dams or other structures that impede fish movement. This program also supports surveys of fish barriers within important watersheds. Funds may be used for projects on both public and private lands.

Wedgewood Wildlife Habitat
This project involves the reclamation of a retired 25 acre gravel pit (now known as Wander Lake) in an increasingly urbanized section of Fairbanks, Alaska east of Wedgewood Resort. Gravel was mined from the site for a number of years, ending some time in the 1990s. The current lake is very steep-sided, deep (up to 60’) and has no outlet.  The gravel banks support mainly invasive white sweet clover, and there are only three patches of shoreline that support aquatic vegetation such as bulrush and cattail.  The only birds known to nest immediately adjacent to the lake include spotted sandpiper and semipalmated plover.  There is a healthy aquatic insect population in the lake. 

The steep sides of the former gravel pit are being contoured to create shallow littoral zones.  Photo Credit:  USFWS
The steep sides of the former gravel pit are being contoured to create shallow littoral zones.
Photo Credit: USFWS

The goal of this project is to preserve and improve wildlife habitat in an area that’s becoming increasingly developed. This will be accomplished with the following habitat improvements:
•Extensive transportation of gravel and soil to create five acres of shallow littoral zones and a number of islands.
•Re-contouring of the shoreline in several areas to reduce erosion and promote vegetation growth.
•Sedges and other emergent native vegetation will be transplanted into the littoral zones.
•Non-game fish (longnose suckers, lake chub, and Alaska blackfish) have been transplanted into the former gravel pit to attract piscivorous mammals and birds such as ducks, loons, kingfishers, terns, and ospreys.  

Members of the Warrior Transition Unit, Company A, seine for non-game fish species that will be transplanted into the rehabilitated gravel pit and serve as food for piscivorous mammals and birds.
Members of the Warrior Transition Unit, Company A, seine for non-game fish species that will be transplanted into the rehabilitated gravel pit and serve as food for piscivorous mammals and birds. Photo Credit: USFWS

Once the vegetation and fish populations are established, the lake will provide important stopover habitat for birds, including declining boreal-nesting ducks such as scaup and scoters, as well as other declining wetland breeders including horned grebes, lesser yellowlegs, and solitary sandpipers. 

In addition to natural colonization by willows and other vegetation, cattails, bulrush, sedge, grass clumps and willows will be transplanted to create the structure that will attract nesting rusty blackbirds, a species of conservation concern, into the new wetlands.

A plan to control invasive plants and plant native grass and wildflower seeds is being implemented to promote thicker vegetation growth around the rest of the lake. Other improvements include installing duck-nesting boxes, carving a vertical bank to create bank swallow nesting habitat, and installing an osprey nesting platform.
 
A nature trail, observation deck, photography blinds, and interpretive signs are being added to the lake’s perimeter to enhance visitor experience and provide environmental education about the area’s plants and wildlife. In addition to serving visitors from the nearby Wedgewood Resort hotel, the trails will be enjoyed by other visitors, including area residents and school children on field trips.
 
This project has created several new jobs for laborers and project managers.  It also provided an opportunity to partner with the Warrior Transition Unit, Company A on nearby Fort Wainwright, a program which provides job training and employment for wounded soldiers. More Information (pdf)

Anvil City Academy Schoolyard habitat Project
The Anvil City Science Academy (ACSA) is a charter school that has been part of the Nome Public School System for the past ten years. The school currently has 44 students in grades 5 through 8.  The Anvil City Science Academy focuses on place-based, hands-on study of local environments to connect children with nature. 

Student stewardship projects include  monitoring stream velocity and discharge, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature.
Student stewardship projects include  monitoring stream velocity and discharge, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature. Photo Credit: USFWS

 

The Anvil City Science Academy manages 20 acres of uplands and wetlands and is bordered for 1 mile by Anvil Creek.  ACSA grounds provide a natural laboratory for students.  Several years ago, a trail system was created to connect the school to the nearby slough.  Over the years, some of the natural or “green” infrastructure has fallen into disrepair.  The Fairbanks Field Office Habitat Branch teamed up with the school spring, 2008, to begin rehabilitating these local wetlands as part of a Schoolyard Habitat Program.

Transplanting native willows and other emergent vegetation to the banks of Anvil Creek will improve it as spawning and rearing habitat for salmon.  Photo Credit:  USFWS
Transplanting native willows and other emergent vegetation to the banks of Anvil Creek will improve it as spawning and rearing habitat for salmon. Photo Credit: USFWS

 

This Schoolyard Habitat Program has a duel purpose of restoring wildlife habitat while connecting ACSA students to natural systems that surround the school.  All students, teachers and parents will be involved in the design and implementation of the habitat restoration project. This project will have several components, including:
•Collection, rearing and replanting of salmon eggs.
•Restoration of salmon spawning beds.
•Recycling Christmas trees to provide cover for young salmon in dredge ponds also used as secondary spawning grounds.
•Removal of algae covering Moonlight Springs Pond.
•Partnering with the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation to leverage funds for restoration of Anvil Creek and Moonlight Springs.
• Transplanting native willows and other emergent vegetation to the banks of Anvil Creek.
•Teaching stewardship of natural areas surrounding the school to all students.

For more information (pdf)

The web site for the project follows

In addition, the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office has been active in habitat restoration on the Chena Slough. Chena Slough provides excellent spawning and rearing habitat for Arctic Grayling. Up to one-third of the Arctic Grayling in the Chena River spawn in the lower reaches of Chena Slough. The Chena Slough Technical Committee and Chena Slough Neighborhood Committee meet several times a year to plan projects that will improve fish habitat in the Slough. If you want to participate in these planning meetings, contact Mitch Osborne at 456-0209 or email Mitch_Osborne@fws.gov.

For a detailed description of specific projects and success stories, see these links:

For more information about our Partners for Fish and Wildlife or Fish Passage projects in Alaska, please see the Alaska Region Habitat Restoration page or contact Mitch Osborne at either mitch_osborne@fws.gov or by phone at 907-456-0209.

 

Last updated: September 12, 2013