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IZEMBEK: Many hands make light work to benefit salmon migration
Alaska Region, July 22, 2016
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Looking upstream at one stream in Kinzarof Lagoon selected for restoration prior to marine debris removal by INWR staff to improve salmon migration.
Looking upstream at one stream in Kinzarof Lagoon selected for restoration prior to marine debris removal by INWR staff to improve salmon migration. - Photo Credit: Stacey Lowe/USFWS
Looking upstream at one stream in Kinzarof Lagoon after restoration efforts were completed by INWR staff.
Looking upstream at one stream in Kinzarof Lagoon after restoration efforts were completed by INWR staff. - Photo Credit: Stacey Lowe/USFWS
Cold Bay residents assisting INWR staff with removal of marine debris from a stream in Kinzarof Lagoon.
Cold Bay residents assisting INWR staff with removal of marine debris from a stream in Kinzarof Lagoon. - Photo Credit: Bo Sloan/USFWS

The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Staff recently completed a stream restoration project on three anadromous fish streams in the Kinzarof Lagoon area on the refuge. Over the last few decades coastal marine debris accumulated in large quantities in the streams. Severe winter storms and high tides had blown and washed a significant amount of debris inland and much of it had amassed inside the narrow streams utilized by salmon as adult migration and juvenile rearing areas.

 

The small streams had become significantly obstructed by marine debris such as dock pilings coated in creosote, driftwood, tires, buoys, and commercial fishing nets and line. The debris accumulated to the extent that it was likely impeding adult salmon migration in at least 2 of the 3 streams. The sockeye salmon that utilize these streams provide critical subsistence food resources for local residents and have significant ecological value within the refuge ecosystem.

The debris was removed using hand tools (crowbar, hand saw, shovel, pickaxe) and a chainsaw to separate the debris and reduce the size and weight of the larger pieces. The violent storms created a giant puzzle where removal could only occur by one log or board at a time. The majority of the debris was located within the first 100-200 yards of the mouth of the streams. Some of the wooden debris was retained in place to reduce impacts on the stream bank and prevent further erosion. Several pieces of debris were also retained within the stream because they create valuable habitat for juvenile salmon. Only debris that would not directly impact adult salmon migration was retained within the stream. Local residents utilized some of the debris for firewood and smoking fish.

To generate local interest and awareness of the restoration project, Izembek NWR staff organized and hosted a community outreach event to celebrate conservation of our valuable subsistence resources. Local residents were invited to an onsite barbeque lunch on the beach at the final stream site to learn about the refuge’s progress on the project. Despite the typical Cold Bay inclement weather, many local residents attended the event to support our project and learn more about our conservation activities. In the true Cold Bay spirit, many of the residents enthusiastically jumped right in and hauled debris from the stream side to the beach to help with the restoration effort. The assistance made an overwhelming task more manageable, and enjoyable!


Contact Info: Stacey Lowe, (907) 532-2445, stacey_lowe@fws.gov
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