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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Fairbanks Reclaims the River that Runs through It

Snaking through the heart of Fairbanks, Alaska, the Chena River has been vital to community development and quality of life for more than 100 years. From the gold rush on, the river helped fuel the city’s growth, and over time its residents have come to count on the river as part of their outdoor playground – in the winter it carries snow machines and dog mushers; in the summer, resident and tourists alike enjoy boat rides, fishing and river side hospitality.

But the years of growth have taken their toll: Water quality has deteriorated and river banks have eroded. Recently the number of King salmon making their way through the city – part of the second-largest run of Yukon River Chinook – has declined, too.

Now this community is coming together in new and innovative ways to make sure its central artery stays healthy and remains a vital part of Fairbanks’ future. A diverse group of partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local government, nonprofits, schools, local residents, businesses and landowners is working to improve the river’s condition to ensure the Chena and its tributaries continue to support the people and wildlife that depend on it.

Together, they are restoring river banks and salmon habitat, slowing and cleaning storm water run-off, and improving the aesthetics of the city’s water front.

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