Water is critically important to all the habitats and species found on Alaska’s Refuges, including Kanuti. The Water Resources Branch provides scientific leadership and technical assistance, collecting and interpreting water quantity and quality data to address water management issues and acquire water rights on Alaska’s refuges. Data collected by the Water Resources Branch are used 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.

In October 2008 the Service's Water Resources Branch began a water quantity and quality monitoring project on eight streams in Kanuti refuge. Managers use the data to determine the water quantity and quality necessary to propagate native fish and wildlife species, preserve natural habitats, and support other refuge purposes. Upon the completion of the project six years later, we retained the gage at Old Bettles on the main stem Koyukuk River and we continue to monitor that station. Annual monitoring entails visiting the gage six times a year to capture seasonal variation in flow regime.

Kanuti refuge has historic stream gaging data for eight sites collected between 2008-2015, and water quality/sampling was conducted at six of these sites. There is a real-time gage on the Koyukuk River north of the Refuge where seasonal water quality sampling and physical water quality measurements are also collected. A Water Resource Inventory and Assessment for the Kanuti Refuge completed in 2017 provides detailed information on the hydrologic and aquatic environment of the refuge and is available here.

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A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.


Kanuti Flats aerial view with spotted bodies of water.
The Athabascan name for Kanuti is "Kk'toonootne" which translates to "well traveled river by both man and animals." Kanuti Refuge is about the size of the state of Delaware and straddles the Arctic Circle, with approximately a third of the Refuge above the Circle and two-thirds below it. Kanuti...