USFWS
Alaska National Wetlands Inventory
Alaska Region   

 

What We Do

Overview

The Alaska National Wetlands Inventory (AK NWI) is responsible for mapping Alaska’s wetland habitats. Guided by our overall national strategy, the AK NWI conducts strategic mapping of high priority wetland habitats, carries out status and trends analyses of wetlands and other aquatic habitats, and identifies and assesses threats to aquatic habitats at risk. Currently, 43 percent of Alaska has been mapped, and 36 percent has been digitized.


Alaska's Wetland Characteristics

Most regions of Alaska have a land surface that includes extensive areas of wetlands. Treeless expanses of moist and wet tundra underlain by permafrost occur in the northern and western portions. Interior Alaska contains millions of acres of black spruce muskeg and floodplain wetlands dominated by deciduous shrubs and emergents. Shrub and herbaceous bogs are a predominant feature of the landscape in southcentral and southeast Alaska. In mountainous areas such as the Brooks or Alaska Ranges, wetlands have developed in drainages and on vegetated slopes. Some of the nation’s most extensive complexes of salt marshes and mud flats occur along the coasts of the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas, and the Gulf of Alaska.

Wetlands are abundant in the valleys and basins associated with large river systems including the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Porcupine, Tanana, and Koyukuk Rivers. Significant wetland areas also occur on the major river deltas in Alaska. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, one of the world’s largest coastal deltaic formations, supports a variety of wetland types including wet tundra, grassy sloughs, shrub swamps, ponds and brackish marsh. Other major deltas in Alaska that are predominantly wetland are the Colville River Delta on the Beaufort Sea coast, the Copper River Delta in southcentral Alaska, and the Stikine River Delta in the southeast region.

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Alaska Status & Trends

The report Status of Alaska Wetlands (Hall, et al. 1994) presents results of a study on the status of wetlands and deepwater habitats. The objective of the study was to develop statistical estimates of the area-wide extent of wetland and deepwater habitat categories for Alaska. It also provides information on the amounts of wetland areas that are managed by Federal agencies, the State of Alaska, Native corporations and others. The AK NWI also develops data on wetland losses and changes for local areas including population centers. Wetland trends information has been produced for the cities of Anchorage and Juneau, as well as the Palmer/Wasilla area, and the Kenai River watershed. An additional wetland trend study for Fairbanks is presently in production. This type of information is important for reviewing the effectiveness of existing programs and policies that affect wetlands, for identifying national or regional land-use problems, and for monitoring the rate of wetland losses.

 

 

Last updated: May 17, 2013