Water is critically important to all the habitats and species found on Alaska’s Refuges, including Izembek. Our Water Resources Branch provides scientific leadership and technical assistance and collects data to quantify ecological water requirements, address physical and ecologic habitat issues, and provide long-term monitoring to assess changes in the hydrologic and aquatic landscape. The Branch’s work to acquire State water rights, in addition to already existing Federal reserved water rights, provides protection of fish and wildlife habitats and the natural biodiversity of aquatic wildlife, and ensures an adequate water supply for refuge purposes and facilities.
Freshwater streams and lakes at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge provide essential habitat for anadromous fish species, including all 5 species of Pacific salmon. We initiated stream temperature monitoring in 2014 to provide baseline water quality data to track changes over time that may be a result of human use or , as water temperature can serve as an early signal of potential salmonoid population declines if water temperatures rise above the optimal range for spawning fish. Water temperature is also important for a variety of macroinvertebrates that live in streams and the species that feed on them.
With support from our Water Resources Branch, we're actively monitoring aquatic temperature year-round in sixteen stream and lake sites.