Comprised of over 60 diverse organizations, our Partnership— and our vision and strategy—is greater than the sum of its parts. Since 2006, we have funded and supported nearly 80 on-the-ground assessment, restoration, protection, and education projects that are helping to safeguard salmon and ensure they remain a key part of life here in the Mat-Su. Our adaptive Strategic Action Plan guides the types of projects we—and our partners—put on the ground.
Currently requesting proposals! The Partnership annually offers funds in support of salmon habitat conservation activities and priorities, as identified in the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership Strategic Action Plan found below. Click the following links for the FY17 RFP Scoring Criteria and FY17-Request for Proposals & Guidelines. Closing date is September 30th, 2016.
Strategic Planning Documents
List of Projects Funded in 2016:
Cataloging Anadromous and Resident Fish in Previously Unmapped Streams (Mat-Su Borough/AK Department of Fish & Game) This project proposes to sample 50 to 60 unmapped streams identified during the 2009-2011 MSB Fish Passage Assessments for salmonids and resident fish. Data will be submitted to the Anadromous Waters Catalog and the Alaska Freshwater Fish Inventory. We will use this information and the updated National Hydrography Dataset to estimate upstream habitat. This information will also help refine the Mat-Su Culvert Replacement Optimization model by filling data gaps. Removing fish passage barriers allows anadromous and resident fish of all age classes and life stages unobstructed access to important habitats for spawning, rearing, summer feeding and over-wintering. Establishing a stream as salmon bearing and adding it to the Anadromous Waters Catalog affords if protection under state law AS 16.05.0871 (Anadromous Fish Act).
Mat-Su Salmon Partnership Outreach and Coordination (The Nature Conservancy) This funding helps ensure that the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership continues to provide leadership in addressing the potential impacts to salmon and their habitat from increasing human use and development in the Mat-Su Basin. This project supports 1) the Partnership Coordinator position ; 2) trainings and workshops for partners, including the Mat-Su Salmon Symposium; and 3) advancing outreach activities for the Partnership to benefit salmon habitat.
Chelatna Lake Invasive Northern Pike Eradication (AK Department of Fish & Game) This project will utilize various fishing techniques to remove invasive northern pike from Chelatna Lake in the Susitna River watershed, which supports a significant population of sockeye salmon as well as Chinook, coho, chum and pink salmon. Removal of northern pike from Chelatna Lake is expected to improve juvenile salmon survival and adult returns. Chelatna Lake supports the largest population of sockeye salmon in the Susitna River watershed with weir counts ranging from 17,721 to 84,899 representing an average 17% of the total escapement of sockeye salmon into the Susitna River watershed since 2006. Northern pike predation on juvenile salmon is likely reducing production of salmon populations in Chelatna Lake.
2016 Mat‐Su Water Reservation Program Flow Data Acquisition (US Fish and Wildlife Service) The Mat-Su region supports some of North America’s most viable salmon fisheries. For this project, the Mat-Su Water Reservation Program will quantify and protect instream flows needed to sustain salmon habitat and production on two waterbodies of priority to ADF&G; Little Willow Creek and Kashwitna River. This project funds Year 3 and 4, respectively, to achieve 5 full years of flow data under the Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership Strategic Plan Objective 9.1 Instream Flow on Anadromous Waters. Funds this year will allow the program to continue through the end of 2016.
2016 Mat-Su Fish Passage Program (Mat-Su Borough) Cottonwood Creek is a tributary to Knik Arm near Palmer, Alaska and supports sockeye salmon, coho salmon, as well as other resident fish. This crossing at Riverdell Drivel has been identified as a ‘red’ culvert barrier to juvenile salmon by Alaska Department of Fish and Game Fish Passage Improvement Program. The existing crossing has localized floodplain impacts at the Riverdell Drive crossing as well as impeding 0.9 miles of upstream habitat above the crossing. Engineering designs are completed and a 19’x 7’ embedded box culvert will pass streamflow and sediment and an additional 120” circular culvert will be constructed at a higher elevation to pass flood flows. This proposal addresses Objective 4.2 of the 2013 Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership Strategic Action Plan to restore 65 culverts for improved fish passage in the Mat Su Borough.
Guidelines for Developing around Salmon Habitat in the Mat-Su (The Nature Conservancy) Development around waterbodies and the resulting loss of salmon habitat has been one of the greatest contributors to the decline of salmon populations in most of North America other than Alaska. In the Mat-Su, most salmon populations remain healthy and protection of their habitat is a priority of the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership for maintaining long-term salmon viability. This project will create guidelines for development around salmon habitat to inform land use decisions and protect riparian vegetation, water quality, instream flows and other priority habitat characteristics.
List of Projects Funded in 2015:
Rapid Response for Mat-Su Elodea: Alexander Lake Eradication Project (Alaska Department of Natural Resources) Elodea, Alaska’s first submerged freshwater invasive plant, was discovered in the Mat-Su in August 2014. The goal of this project is to implement a rapid response management effort to eradicate elodea in Alexander Lake over the next three years before it has the opportunity to become well-established. Elodea displaces native vegetation, creates dense single-species stands, increases sedimentation and slows waterbody velocities that provide excellent nursery habitat for invasive northern pike and hinder on-going efforts to bolster salmon productivity. This effort includes the implementation of treatment, surveying of high-risk habitat adjacent to Alexander Lake, and assessing existing pathways for Elodea in the Mat-Su Basin to prioritize and target high-risk user groups and pathways for monitoring and outreach.
2015 Mat-Su Fish Passage Program (Mat-Su Borough) Buddy Creek is a tributary to Montana Creek near Talkeetna, Alaska and part of a significant sport fishery for chinook and coho salmon as well as rainbow trout. This crossing has been identified as a barrier to juvenile salmon by Alaska Department of Fish and Game and impacts 2.0 miles of upstream habitat. An estimated 19 foot embedded culvert will replace the existing and failing three culvert crossing. This culvert is listed in the top 16 culverts for the Mat-Su Borough to be replaced for fish barrier issues. The project will also include an in-depth pre and post PIT tagging study of juvenile salmon movement to showcase improvements made and provide a local monitoring reference point for the fish passage program.
Region II Forest Resources & Practices Act Effectiveness Monitoring (Aquatic Restoration and Research Institute) This project evaluates the effectiveness of Forest Resources and Practices Act (FRPA) best management practices (BMPs) toward protecting water quality and fish habitat. BMPs include road construction and drainage standards, and standards for the protection of riparian areas. Riparian standards, which vary based on stream classification type, and road construction and drainage standards, developed for the timber industry could be applied more broadly as standards for riparian protection from urban development and other land uses. The FRPA requires maintenance of “short- and long-term sources of large woody debris, streambank stability, channel morphology, water temperatures, stream flows, water quality, adequate nutrient cycling, food sources, clean spawning gravels, and sunlight” (AS 41.17.115). This project provides post-harvest measurements of stream characteristics which would be compared to previous measures and used to evaluate the effectiveness of road and riparian standards. Final Report.
Mat-Su Salmon Partnership Outreach and Coordination (The Nature Conservancy) The overall objective is to ensure that the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership continues as a leader in addressing the potential impacts to salmon and their habitat from increasing human use and development in the Mat-Su Basin. This funding supports 1) the Partnership Coordinator position ; 2)trainings and workshops for partners, including the Mat-Su Salmon Symposium; and 3) advances outreach activities for the Partnership to benefit salmon habitat.
Mat-Su Stream Thermal Regimes and Watershed Classification (Alaska Natural Heritage Program) This project will develop a watershed classification based on stream thermal regimes for the Mat-Su basin and identify stream segments that are sensitive or resistant to climate to identify high priority watersheds for salmon conservation. The classification will be based on existing stream temperature data and recently developed high resolution spatial data. Future climate scenarios will be used to modify inputs to the classification and predict changes in watershed classes. The classification will be used to identify high priority watersheds for habitat conservation and index watersheds for long-term monitoring
Characteristics of Lake Habitats Important to Overwintering Coho Salmon and Climate Change (US Fish and Wildlife Service/Alaska Department of Fish and Game) This project will identify essential nursery and overwintering habitat for juvenile coho salmon known to occur in lake habitats. Nearly 70% of culverts occupying potential salmon habitat are assessed as potential fish passage barriers to juvenile salmon. Big Lake watershed is one of the few watersheds in Alaska containing a large network of roads over creeks and is a groundwater-fed system. Knowing which lakes are important to juvenile coho salmon survival and how they have changed through time is important to population persistence. Information collected in this project will be compared to historical information collected in 1980s and 1990s to evaluate changes in water quality and habitat over time. This project will use biological information as input to optimize benefits from culvert restoration and direct limited funding for that effort.
2015 Mat‐Su Water Reservation Program Flow Data Acquisition (US Fish and Wildlife Service/US Geological Survey) The Mat-Su region supports some of North America’s most viable salmon fisheries. For this project, the Mat-Su Water Reservation Program will quantify and protect instream flows needed to sustain salmon habitat and production on two waterbodies of priority to ADF&G; Little Willow Creek and Kashwitna River. This project funds Year 2 and 3, respectively, to achieve 5 full years of flow data under the Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership Strategic Plan Objective 9.1 Instream Flow on Anadromous Waters. Sufficient water of good quality is among the most essential requirements for sustaining fish populations and salmon are dependent upon the natural variability of a watershed’s hydrologic regime to meet their habitat requirements. Quantifying and reserving instream flows for salmon is an important tool for protecting salmon habitat and sustaining salmon production.
An Integrated Platform for Mapping of Hydrography, Salmon Habitat and Active River Processes (The Nature Conservancy) In December of 2015 the Nature Conservancy and partners completed an update to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Hydrographic Database. This doubled the number of mapped streams in the Mat-Su Basin, increased the accuracy of stream maps, and brought them up to national standards. Having the many smaller streams tributary streams in which juvenile salmon mature before swimming to the sea now mapped accurately for the first time, will help us all make salmon-friendly decisions about how to manage and develop our lands and waters. The utility of this publicly available data set goes beyond salmon to potentially include enhanced flood preparedness, emergency response, and community development planning.
List of Projects Funded in 2014:
Coordination and Assessing Progress of the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership Strategic Action Plan (The Nature Conservancy) The Partnership formed to address impacts to salmon and their habitat from human use and development in the Mat-Su Basin. Partner efforts are guided by a Strategic Action Plan that identifies threats to salmon and conservation actions partners can take to address those threats. This project addresses Goal IV of healthy governance in the Strategic Action Plan, and will provide coordination support to the Partnership for managing the day to day work of the Partnership, and helping to ensure a focus on goals defined in the Strategic Action Plan. Coordination support includes facilitating committee meetings, responses to national data requests, website updates,questions from the public, development of the annual Mat-Su Salmon Science and Conservation Symposium and more. Providing sustainable support is identified as a national need for all partnerships and was supported by members at our 2013 symposium.
Strategic Conservation of Priority Salmon Habitat in the Mat-Su Borough (Great Land Trust) This project will permanently conserve 200 acres along priority salmon streams within the Mat-Su Borough. Using the salmon habitat prioritization completed in 2012, Great Land Trust (GLT) will target and work with willing landowners to secure permanent conservation easements or acquire fee-simple titles on lands containing important migration, spawning, rearing, and overwintering habitat for Chinook, coho, sockeye, chum, and pink salmon populations.
Designing Cooperative Management Methods for the Knik Islands Conservation Easement (Great Land Trust) Adjoining public/private lands are being utilized to illegally access Knik Islands conservation easement lands on the Matanuska and Knik Rivers. This project will offer state, private, and borough land managers the opportunity to work cooperatively on a project that will benefit salmon habitat and enhance the working relationship of area land managers. It will also enhance the general public’s understanding of the different use areas in this very popular area, restore and prevent further habitat degradation, and test a variety of access control methods that could be used in other areas. Match will be provided by GLT’s long-term management funds.
Science-based Land Conservation for the Big Lake Basin (Cook Inletkeeper) To improve landscape-scale resilience for salmon in the Big Lake watershed, Cook Inletkeeper will interpret thermal infrared imagery collected in 2011 for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify thermal refugia and their associated riparian areas. These spatially-explicit thermal data and other local research relevant for determining key salmon habitat will be synthesized and incorporated into Great Land Trust’s parcel prioritization process for permanent and strategic land conservation.
Wasilla Creek-Meadow Subdivision Streambank Restoration (Mat-Su Resource Conservation & Development Council) The goal of this project is to restore 100 feet of stream bank along Wasilla Creek for fish habitat, including coho salmon, in a cost-share agreement with a private landowner. Techniques (root wads, willow planting, native grass,) will be used to repair sloughing mowed-grass banks in an effort to improve riparian habitat for native fish and wildlife. Hydrology will be restored by returning the channel back to normal width. Vegetation will provide stability and improved habitat. Rootwad revetment is a common method of bank restoration in Alaska and having this as the first project of its kind on Wasilla Creek may help gain more awareness and interest from other landowners with similar impacts.
Baby Salmon Live Here (Outreach Signs for Public Information)(Envision Mat-Su) This project worked with partners and landowners to install 15 signs in strategic areas that are both highly visible and contain vulnerable salmon habitat. These signs read “Baby Salmon Live Here”, and are connected through a QR code to an informative, engaging, and interactive section of the Envision Mat-Su website dedicated to salmon in the Mat-Su and to the individual locations of these signs. (www.babysalmon.org). According to recent research, many Mat-Su residents are confused about salmon lifecycles and species, misinformed about the current threats to salmon, and lack appropriate connections and resources in order to make a difference at an individual level. This demonstration project allows the Partnership to educate, and assess if this is an effective tool for Outreach in the future.
Removing Salmon Barriers Through the Mat-Su Fish Passage Program (Mat-Su Borough) This project would replace one barrier to fish passage, thus opening 2.8 miles of upstream habitat to juvenile coho and possibly Chinook salmon. The crossing of Sunrise Road on Moose Creek has been identified as a partial barrier to juvenile salmon by Alaska Department of Fish and Game and impacts 2.8 miles of upstream habitat. An estimated 8-10 foot embedded culvert will replace the existing culvert. This culvert is listed in the top 16 culverts for the Mat-Su Borough to be replaced for fish barrier issues. Barrier removal will gain upstream habitat in a priority watershed for Chinook and coho salmon, addressing key Mat-Su Salmon Partnership conservation strategies for fish passage.
2014 Mat-Su Water Reservation Program Flow Data Acquisition (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service & US Geological Survey) This project funds years 1 and 2 of a 5 year data gathering effort for water reservation application on Little Willow Creek and Kashwitna River. One year of gaging will bring a total of 2 years of data of the 5 total years needed for the state to accept the reservation application for Kashwitna River. Sufficient water of good quality is among the most essential requirements for sustaining fish populations and salmon are dependent upon the natural variability of a watershed’s hydrologic regime to meet their habitat requirements. Quantifying and reserving instream flows for salmon is an important tool for protecting salmon habitat and sustaining salmon production. This project will benefit salmon fisheries, salmon anglers, and communities throughout the Mat-Su Basin by legally reserving water needed to sustain salmon habitat and production.
Youth Conservation Corps Invasive Plant Early Detection and Rapid Response Program (Upper Susitna Soil & Water Conservation District) The Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation District’s (USSWCD)’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) proposes to unite local citizens with federal resources to control known infestations of invasive plants. Multiple, nonchemical, methods will be used to control invasive plants. The sites will be surveyed the following year to ensure the control methods were effective. At the end of each season survey data will be submitted to the Alaska Natural Heritage Program and be accessible to the public on a state-wide database.
Early Detection of Elodea (Elodea Nuttallii and Elodea Canadensis) in Mat-Su Basin Waters (Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association) Eleven lakes in the MatSu Basin will be surveyed for the presence of the aquatic invasive plant species Elodea. This aquatic invasive plant has moved into lakes around the Anchorage area, which have high traffic (boat and floatplane) that are likely vectors to transport Elodea into MatSu Basin waters.
List of Projects Funded in 2013:
South Central Habitat Conservation Project – Cottonwood Creek Estuary (Great Land Trust) The purpose of this project is to conserve priority salmon habitat in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough with willing landowners. Various properties have been identified and outreach has commenced; actual conservation easements and acres involved will be updated as the project is completed.
Mat‐Su Water Reservation Program Flow Data Acquisition (U.S. Geological Survey) Obtaining water reservations to preserve salmon habitat is a priority objective under Strategic Action Element 9 (Loss or Alteration of Water Flow or Volume). For Partnership water reservations, an interagency group consisting of USFWS, U.S. Geological Survey, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game prioritizes efforts on a yearly basis. This project was to support the first two years of water reservation data gathering on Kashwitna River and Little Willow Creek as part of the Mat-Su Water Reservation Program. Click on the gage numbers to link to gage data for Kashwitna River(15293200) and Little Willow Creek (15293700).
Mat-Su Salmon Partnership Coordination (The Nature Conservancy) The collaboration of the Mat-Su Salmon Partnership is facilitated through coordinated activities, including the annual Mat-Su Salmon Science and Conservation Symposium and using the Partnership’s Strategic Action Plan to guide conservation and science efforts. The Nature Conservancy has provided a part-time coordinator for the Partnership, guided development of its Strategic Action Plan, provided outreach, organized technical committees, and coordinated the annual Mat-Su Salmon Science and Conservation Symposium. This project provides continued support and coordination functions for the Partnership and the symposium, as well as enhance outreach capabilities of the Partnership through spring 2015.
Characterization of Rainbow Trout Seasonal Habitats in Willow Creek (U.S. Geological Survey) This goal of this project is to identify critical seasonal habitats (e.g., spawning, feeding, and overwintering) for rainbow trout in the Willow Creek watershed, south-central Alaska. The pattern and extent of seasonal fish locations and movements will be related to habitat characteristics (physical habitat, water temperature, and flow). These results will be useful for prioritizing habitat restoration and monitoring efforts in Willow Creek, and spatially continuous, geo-referenced habitat surveys may assist with identification and prioritization of habitats for spawning and rearing salmon. Identifying important habitats for salmon and other fish species in the Mat-Su Basin is one of the three purposes of the strategic plan identified by the steering committee of Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership. This project also supports the plan’s focal issue Objective 1.1:“to catalog and document anadromous and non-anadromous fish habitat”. Data collection was completed during 2013 and 2014 field seasons, and data analysis and reporting will be completed by May 2015.
Characterizing Stream Health Through Juvenile Salmon Monitoring (Aquatic Restoration & Research Institute)
This project monitors the relative abundance and health of juvenile Pacific salmon among index streams within the Matanuska-Susitna Basin. Juvenile salmon relative abundance and condition have been shown to be responsive to changes is stream habitat characteristics and allow differentiation between freshwater and marine impacts, and allow for evaluation of localized impacts and at a shorter temporal scale than adult salmon returns. Report.
Distribution of Juvenile Sockeye Salmon in Meadow Creek, AK (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) This project builds upon results from a previous project “Assessment of Juvenile Salmon Habitat and Migratory Patterns in the Big Lake Drainage”. A fyke net to capture emigrating sockeye fry or smolt was operated in 2013. Most emigrating sockeye were fry. Few sockeye smolt emigrated demonstrating that Meadow Creek drainage supports limited rearing habitat for sockeye salmon. Fish passage prioritization in Meadow Creek does not need to further consider sockeye salmon issues. Project is complete and a final report is available online.
Distribution of Northern Pike in Meadow Creek, AK (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) Northern pike are the most significant aquatic invasive species in Cook Inlet and have invaded the Big Lake drainage. However, little was known about abundance, movements, or diet of these introduced predators in this drainage. A pilot effort to capture and radio tag pike in both summer and winter was initiated; however, few pike were caught and none were tagged. Habitat suitable for pike is patchy and it appears that this invader will not become dominant in this system.
Projects Funded in 2012:
Matanuska River Clearwater Side Channel Habitat Conservation Project (Great Land Trust). Based upon assessment work conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Land Trust and other members of the Partnership, streams and rivers were prioritized in the Mat-Su Borough and the Matanuska River side channel habitat was some of the top priority areas to conserve. The clear water side channels were identified as an important resource for juvenile salmon and other species under Strategic Plan Element 2 (Alteration of Riparian Areas). These channels are important spawning and rearing habitat for sockeye, chum and coho salmon and over 160 acres were preserved via conservation easements.
Mat-Su Water Reservation Program Flow Data Acquisition (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service & U.S. Geological Survey) . Obtaining water reservations to preserve salmon habitat is a priority objective under Strategic Action Element 9 (Loss or Alteration of Water Flow or Volume). For Partnership water reservations, an interagency group (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Department of Fish & Game) prioritizes efforts on a yearly basis. This project supported water reservation data gathering on Wasilla Creek and the Kashwitna River for one year as part of a 5 year effort of the Mat-Su Water Reservation Program. Link to online gage data to track gage 15285000 (Wasilla Creek) and gage 15293200 (Kashwitna River).
MatSu Stream Temperature Monitoring Network (Cook Inlet Keeper). This project is an extension of work in the Kenai Peninsula documenting cold and warm stream temperatures and streams that may be more vulnerable to decreased quality of fish habitat in the face of climate change. The project addresses Strategic Action Plan Element 3 (Climate Change) and has implications for Cook Inlet and the rest of the State. It is being used as a model to evaluate climate change considerations within all Alaska Habitat Partnerships. The project consisted of monitoring temperature on an existing network of 21 non-glacial streams in the Mat-Su basin. This network takes continuous air and water temperature measurements during the open water period. Five years of data (2008-2012) were collected and analyzed, showing numerous exceedances of the State’s water temperature criteria for protection of fish. Data was analyzed and used to discuss climate vulnerability differences between cold and warm streams across Mat-Su. Synthesis Report
Riparian Revegetation and Shoreline Rehabilitation at Montana Creek (Upper Susitna Soil & Water Conservation District). Restoring riparian habitat is a priority of Strategic Action Element 2 (Alteration of Riparian Areas). Nearshore salmon habitat and riparian function was rehabilitated along 30 feet of bank on Montana Creek (a system that supports a significant sport fishery for Chinook and coho salmon) with bioengineering and projects identified for future work.
Inventory of Fish Distribution in the Mat-Su Basin 2012 (Chickaloon Village Traditional Council). In Mat-Su as the rest of Alaska, fish habitat protection authorities and planning processes are constrained by lack of knowledge of the extent of anadromous fish habitat. In Mat-Su, only 4,200 miles of documented fish habitat exist out of more than 23,900 miles of mapped streams and increasing this documentation is identified as a need in the Strategic Action Plan (Element 1: Overarching Science Strategies). Fish sampling in the Knik River watershed was completed to update the Anadromous Waters Catalog, resulting in 7 waterbodies being nominated for inclusion in the Catalog. The spatial distribution of off-road vehicle trails was mapped (over 200km), and 13 stream crossings were assessed for degradation and ranked to identify and prioritize areas of concern or habitat restoration projects.
Juvenile Salmon Use of Knik Arm Estuaries in support of Habitat Protection (Aquatic Restoration & Research Institute). Documenting and understanding estuarine habitat and juvenile salmon use is an important priority of the Partnership under strategic action Element 10 (Loss of Estuary and Nearshore Habitats). For this project, an annotated bibliography was made to document past work done in the Cook Inlet environment. Juvenile salmon presence and water quality data were collected at the mouths/estuaries of Cottonwood Creek, Wasilla Creek, Palmer Slough, and O’Brien Creek estuaries. This information will be used to support habitat protection and restoration measures. Report
Swiftwater Creek Cooperative ATV/ORV Outreach, Trail and Restoration Plan (Wasilla Soil & Water Conservation District). Restoring riparian habitat and making more sustainable crossings is a priority of Strategic Action Element 11 (Motorized Off-Road Recreation). In this project, a highly degraded Off-road vehicle crossing is to be restored by directing traffic to one location and restoring up to 100 feet of bank with bioengineering and native vegetation on a priority salmon stream. Surveys were conducted to assess user awareness about juvenile salmon and generate interest for participation in restoration activities.
Salmon Habitat Restoration in the Knik River Public Use Area (Palmer Soil & Water Conservation District). Restoring riparian habitat is a priority of Strategic Action Element 2 (Alteration of Riparian Areas). In this project, 50-feet of highly degraded shoreline along Jim Lake was converted into a single lane boat launch to prevent the shoreline from being further degraded from recreational use. The entrance was re-sloped to prevent storm-water runoff from entering salmon spawning grounds, and the shoreline was stabilized, bioengineered and revegetated to prevent further erosion.
Sunshine Creek Fish Passage Project. Providing fish passage on priority streams is a main strategy for habitat improvement in Mat-Su and is Strategic Action Plan Element 4 (Culverts that Block Fish Passage). This project replaced an impassable, smooth, concrete culvert with a 30 foot bridge on the Alaska Railroad. The crossing is on Sunshine Creek, which supports an important sport fishery for coho salmon. The project opened 3.2 miles of upstream wetland habitat. Report
Projects Funded in 2011:
Matanuska -Susitna Wetland Inventory and Assessment. This project provides the baseline for evaluation of wetlands across the area most vulnerable to development in Mat-Su and allows implementation of the objectives in Strategic Action Plan Element 5. Filling of Wetlands. Project mapped all wetlands within a 1 million acre area of the Mat-Su using the Cook Inlet Classification system. Related worked based on this mapping include the Mat-Su Borough (MSB) Wetland Management Plan and Functional Assessment. Results of this work are detailed here. More information about MSB wetlands here.
O’Brien Creek Estuary Conservation Project. Conservation of priority salmon habitat is an objective of Strategic Action Element 2 (Alteration of Riparian Areas) and 10 (Loss of Estuaries and Nearshore Development). In this project, a 30 acre parcel of private estuarine wetland at the mouth of O’Brien Creek was identified. Great Land Trust worked with the private landowner to put this parcel into a voluntary conservation easement, protecting the area in perpetuity. Final Report
Inventory of Fish Distribution in the Mat-Su Basin, 2011. In Mat-Su as the rest of Alaska, fish habitat protection authorities and planning processes are constrained by lack of knowledge of the extent of anadromous fish habitat. In Mat-Su, only 4,200 miles of documented fish habitat exist out of more than 23,900 miles of mapped streams and increasing this documentation is identified as a need in the Strategic Action Plan (Element 1: Overarching Science Strategies). Waters important to anadromous fish in the Knik river watershed were expanded, and fish and aquatic habitat parameters were collected from 10 study areas to examine occupancy dynamics and habitat use of juvenile coho salmon. Eight nominations to update the Anadromous Waters Catalog were made and 225 hectares were surveyed. Report
Assessing Progress on the Strategic Action Plan Through the Mat-Su Salmon Symposium. Providing for consistent and effective coordination of the Partnership is necessary to ensure that the Partnership goals and objectives are met over time and that salmon and their habitat are conserved. This project provides for that coordination under Strategic Action Element IV (Organization Goals). The project provides coordination and support for the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership including annual salmon science symposiums, addressing national data calls, coordination of committees and update of the strategic action plan. Final Report
The Mat-Su Borough Reservation of Water Program, Alaska. Obtaining water reservations to preserve salmon habitat is a priority objective under Strategic Action Element 9. Loss or Alteration of Water Flow or Volume. For Partnership water reservations, an interagency group consisting of FWS, USGS and ADFG prioritizes efforts on a yearly basis. This project was to support water reservation data gathering on Wasilla Creek for one year as part of a 5 year effort as part of the Mat-Su Water Reservation Program. Gage data for gage 15285000 can be found here.
Riparian Revegetation and Shoreline Rehabilitation in the Matanuska-Susitna Basin. Restoring riparian habitat is a priority of Strategic Action Element 2 (Alteration of Riparian Areas). In this project, nearshore salmon habitat and riparian function was rehabilitated along 700 feet of impacted shoreline. Private land owners and public land managers were educated about the value of riparian stewardship to ensure salmon heath and mitigate climate change impacts to salmon, particularly stream temperature impacts. Report
Distribution patterns of juvenile coho salmon in tributaries of the Little Susitna River, Alaska. Understanding distribution of salmon in various priority watersheds of the MatSu Basin is critical to prioritizing restoration activities and a key Partnership Action Plan strategy under Element 1 (Overarching Science Strategies). Juvenile coho salmon distributional limits and habitat use characteristics in upland and wetland gradient tributaries of the Little Susitna River were determined. Select tributaries were sampled for juvenile coho abundance and habitat parameters, and results were modeled to assess habitat usage. In general results showed that juvenile coho salmon lengths and condition factors were higher in wetlands streams than in upland streams. Recommendations for more study were to conduct more statistical comparison between stream types to validate these results and control for more potential confounding factors that could influence results if used across the Mat-Su Borough. Report
Biotic Assessment of Stormwater Quality. This project continues first baseline water quality assessment in Mat-Su to inform partners of potential stormwater impacts under Strategic Action Plan Element 6. Impervious Surfaces & Stormwater Runoff. Project assessed potential impacts of stormwater on juvenile salmon and macroinvertebrate communities by collecting physical and chemical water quality parameters and biotic metrics in three streams. Data were analyzed to determine if deleterious effects on biotic communities could be measured where inputs of stormwater runoff and high percent impervious cover occur. Report
Fish Passage Through Sunrise Road (ML024), Mat-Su Borough, Alaska. Providing fish passage on priority streams is a main strategy for habitat improvement in Mat-Su and is Strategic Action Plan Element 4. Culverts that Block Fish Passage. This project added one more barrier removal to a larger fish passage project on Sunrise Road and removed one of the ‘Top 10’ identified fish passage barriers in the Little Susitna watershed. The project, on Coyote creek, replaced an existing fish passage barrier with a 19 foot box culvert allowing a simulated stream design channel to maximize fish and small wildlife movement and flood flows, opening over 2 miles of habitat upstream. Report
Projects Funded in 2010:
Knik Islands Coastal and Estuary Protection Project. Based upon assessment work conducted by the Service, Great Land Trust and other members of the Partnership, estuaries are identified as important habitat for juvenile salmon and other species and are of high priority to conserve within the Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership under Strategic Action Plan (Element 10: Loss of Estuaries and Nearshore Development). Great Land Trust and other partners prioritized these estuaries and used the prioritization results to protect a very significant complex of islands and estuarine habitat at the mouth of the Knik and Matanuska rivers. This complex has been protected in perpetuity in cooperation with native corporation Eklutna Inc. and totals 4,800 acres, making a key connection between the 500,000 acre Chugach State Park in the south to 28,000 acre Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge to the north. This area is the largest protected area to date by conservation easements in Mat-Su and adds to other estuary protection work conducted by the Partnership in Upper Cook Inlet. Article, Map
Protecting Fish Habitats in the Mat-Su via the Alaska Anadromous Waters Catalog. In Mat-Su as the rest of Alaska, fish habitat protection authorities and planning processes are constrained by lack of knowledge of the extent of anadromous fish habitat. In Mat-Su, only 4,200 miles of documented fish habitat exist out of more than 23,900 miles of mapped streams and increasing this documentation is identified as a need in the Partnership Strategic Action Plan (Element 1: Overarching Science Strategies). In partnership with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and other partners, an interagency group were consulted and priority given to the Knik River Public Use area as the focus of this project. This project extended documentation of anadromous extent for coho, sockeye and other fish species, with over 647 hectares of lake/wetland complexes and 10 kilometers of stream surveyed in 2010. Report
LIDAR topographic data and orthorectified aerial imagery acquisition for the Mat-Su Valley and nearby areas. The Mat-Su Borough (MSB) LiDAR & Imagery Project is a collection of high-resolution elevation data and aerial imagery for 3680 square miles of the Mat-Su Borough (MSB) as well as the development of a number of ancillary datasets. The area covered is the area of Mat-Su most vulnerable to development and the project will assist with both baseline habitat and developmental needs for the area as one of the large publically available liDAR datasets in Alaska. The project provides the initial framework from with many Partnership strategies will work from in the future under Element 1 (Overarching Science Strategies). The project is being managed by the MSB in collaboration with the US Geological Survey and US Fish and Wildlife Service. More information can be found here.
Ground and Surface Water Interaction in the Lucile Creek Basin: Implications for Freshwater Supply to Mat-Su Salmon Streams. Gaining a understanding of the importance of groundwater to streamflow and salmon habitat is crucial in Mat-Su, which has extensive wetlands surrounding prime salmon habitat. As such, gaining this information is a key objective in the Partnership Action Plan under Element 1 (Overarching Science Strategies). An existing ground and surface water monitoring project within the Lucile Creek basin was initiated by USGS in June 2009 to evaluate the importance of groundwater to stream flow and use these relationships to inform sustainable development. This project built upon this previous work with results showing increased contribution of groundwater as one went lower down the watershed from a deeper regional aquifer rather than shallower aquifers or wetland drainage. Variations in surface and groundwater exchange were documented based on degree of groundwater discharge into the stream and type of channel substrate present. This project is one of the first to demonstrate the importance of groundwater systems to stream flow with broad implications for development throughout the greater Big Lake basin. Further information on the larger groundwater study conducted by USGS is available here and in this Report.
Estimate sockeye and coho salmon spawning distribution in the Big Lake watershed. Understanding distribution of salmon in various priority watersheds of the Mat-Su Basin is critical to prioritizing restoration activities and a key Partnership Action Plan strategy under Element 1. Overarching Science Strategies. The Big Lake watershed is one of these priority salmon watersheds. As year 1 of a 5 years project, run timing, spawning distribution, and critical habitats of sockeye and coho salmon in the Big Lake watershed were identified through trapping and pit tagging. Results showed that sockeye salmon arrived and spawned earlier than coho salmon and sockeye salmon primarily spawned in Meadow Creek and Big Lake, while coho salmon primarily spawned in Meadow and Fish creeks. Future years will link specific habitats and areas of the watershed to salmon life stages.
Eska Creek Culvert Step-Pool Construction. Providing fish passage on priority streams is a main strategy for habitat improvement in Mat-Su and is Strategic Action Plan Element 4 (Culverts that Block Fish Passage). Eska Creek was historically used for subsistence by Chickaloon Traditional Village Council members. With funding from the Partnership and others, the tribe was able to construct a step-pool system at the outlet of the first set of perched culverts on Eska Creek, while other funding was acquired to design and construct the next and least set of perched culverts just upstream. This project removed a barrier to fish passage and opened 0.25 miles of upstream habitat to juvenile coho salmon. As part of larger effort, this removal contributed to opening the entire system for salmon. The pre-project and post-project assessment and photos by Alaska Department of Fish and Game can be found here.
Assessment of Limiting Factors for Distribution and Production of Juvenile Salmon at Risk from Development. Understanding distribution of salmon in various priority watersheds of the Mat-Su Basin is critical to prioritizing restoration activities and a key Partnership Action Plan strategy under Element 1 (Overarching Science Strategies). Juvenile coho salmon distributional limits and habitat use characteristics in high and low gradient tributaries of the Little Susitna River were determined. Select tributaries were sampled for juvenile coho abundance and habitat parameters, and results were modeled to assess habitat usage. Report
Restoration, Education, and Monitoring on Mat-Su Streams. Conducting streambank restoration and providing for outreach opportunities are aspects of Element 2. Alteration of Riparian Areas and IV under Outreach Activities in the Strategic Action Plan. For this project, multiple restoration and education projects were initiated and completed in the Mat-Su basin; streambank restoration, assessment and monitoring work occurred on seven waterbodies and four school groups and other youth interns were involved on several of the projects. Report
Assessment of effects of stormwater runoff and Classification of Mat-Su Fish Habitat – Juvenile Fish Distribution. This project initiated to first baseline water quality assessment in Mat-Su to inform partners of potential stormwater impacts under Strategic Action Plan Element 6 (Impervious Surfaces & Stormwater Runoff). Project implemented a biological monitoring protocol using fish communities to assess water quality in streams of the Mat-Su basin by using 16 stream locations representing 4 stream types. These locations were assessed to describe fish community, water quality, temperature and discharge, including habitat characteristics. Results were compiled in a report and presented to the Mat-Su Borough for evaluation during formation of their Storm Water Management Plan. Report
DID YOU KNOW? The Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership offers project advice and potential endorsement for Partners working on Mat-Su Basin projects that conserve or increase knowledge of salmon and their habitat. Download the Project Endorsement Application to learn more.
Learn about partner accomplishments in this presentation for the all Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership meeting in February of 2016 Mat-Su Partnership Presentation – All AK FHP meeting Feb 9, 2016