Biomass Experiment and Beluga Whale Research in Yakutat

How the Yakutat Salmon Board is working to promote their watersheds,salmon habitat,and local economy

Biomass Experimental Plantation:

In collaboration with Yakutat Power and the Yak-Tat Kwaan native Corporation, Yakutat Salmon Board (YSB) crews cleared two acres of poorly regenerating second growth spruce and planted six tree species to determine species compositions best suited to Yakutat’s climate.  If successful the trial will be expanded to 2400 acres of energy crops as an alternative fuel source to diesel for the community.

Anadromous Waters Cataloguing:

In partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) , Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and the United States Forest Service (USFS), YSB coordinated a landscape level inventory of unmapped salmon streams in the Eastern Forelands.  The project gained support of a USFS funded helicopter, which greatly improved miles of streams surveyed.

Beluga Whale Research:

In partnership with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the National Park Service, YSB staff conducted two field trips to observe beluga behavior and take photographs for annual population monitoring.  This marks the sixth year of monitoring the small group of whales that reside near the Hubbard glacier.

Watershed Thinning:

YSB oversaw the final thinning of the Ophir Creek watershed in 2010.  Overall, 1000 acres have been thinned to restore harvested forest in the Ophir Creek  drainage.

Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Response:

A total of four sea lions and one gray whale washed ashore in 2010.  YSB and USFS staff responded to take genetic samples, determine cause of death and completing basic measurements.

Logging Road Decommissioning:

YSB collaborated with the USFWS and USFS Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) to contract the Yak-Tat Kwaan, Pate Construction and KipCo to perform road decommissioning on native corporation lands.  The project is multi-year, ongoing with over 15 miles of roads erased, and stream channels reconnected.  Four YSB crewmembers brushed out overgrown roads in front of the excavator.

Marine Debris Cleanup:

Cleanups began on June 7 and continued through August 12 (Table 1).  A total of twelve beach segments, ranging from 200 to 3,500 yards were cleaned (Figure 1).  Due to the length of shoreline (167 miles) in the area not all of the beaches in a particular area are contiguous.  For example, on Khantaak Island there were three separate beaches cleaned within the bay, however, the data is reported collectively as Khantaak Island.

Eighteen individuals (10 paid laborers and 8 volunteers) worked a total of 582.25 hours to collect 5,947 pounds of marine debris from 32,447 yards of beach.  Crews collected twenty-three trawl and gillnet net samples.