Healthy Watersheds

Current Projects

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Past logging activities have degraded fish habitat in some sections of Pat Creek, near Wrangell, AK. During summer 2019, spruce trees will be strategically added to a reach of stream to improve salmon habitat, and an abandoned logging road will be breached to allow East Fork Pat Creek to migrate naturally across its floodplain. Funding and project partners include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Charlotte Martin Foundation.​

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SAWC is helping to coordinate a regional, community-based stream temperature monitoring network. Tribes, watershed councils, the University of Alaska, and government agencies are all monitoring different sites across the region. Stream temperature is being measured hourly year-round at over 50 sites around Southeast Alaska. Data will be useful for tracking change over time and understanding how our valuable aquatic resources may respond to climate change. Check out the project page for more information on existing monitoring sites, methods for collecting and sharing data, and how to get involved.​

Jordan Creek Greenbelt

Habitat for Fish and People

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We are teaming up with the Juneau International Airport, Discovery Southeast, Society of St. Vincent DePaul, and Trout Unlimited to improve bridges and trails, remove litter, fight invasive species, restore riparian habitat and teach youth about natural history in Juneau’s Jordan Creek Greenbelt area. Located at the south end of Jordan Ave, the Greenbelt is a natural gem in a densely urbanized area, and some TLC will provide both social and ecological benefits. Funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 5-star Urban Waters Program.

Knot in Juneau’s Backyard

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SAWC is joining forces with the Alaska Department of Transportation to battle invasive Bohemian knotweed in Juneau in 2019. One of the most invasive non-native plant species found in Alaska, knotweed is found throughout Juneau where it outcompetes and displaces native plant communities that provide natural beauty, berry harvesting opportunities, and habitat for fish and wildlife. With financial support from the Copper River Watershed Project’s invasive plant mini-grant program, SAWC staff will work with ADOT maintenance crews to eradicate 60 knotweed infestations growing in road rights-of-way starting in July.

Mendenhall Wetlands

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The Mendenhall Wetlands provide unique habitat for many types of fish, plants, and invertebrates, and have been recognized as a globally important bird area. Locally, the wetlands are an important recreation, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing area. For many decades, Juneau’s development and urban activities have been encroaching on this critical habitat, and five streams that are considered “impaired” by various types of urban pollution drain into the wetlands. SAWC is initiating an effort to explore potential restoration opportunities in and adjacent to the wetlands to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and we are currently focusing on improving water quality in Jordan Creek, a major urban tributary to the wetlands, to reduce the amount of urban pollution entering the wetlands.

Helping Fish Reach Habitat

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Trees that fall into streams create excellent habitat for salmon and other fish, and placing trees into stream channels is a common habitat restoration technique where streamside logging has occurred. In Juneau’s Switzer Creek watershed, SAWC is actually removing large trees from a small stream to help salmon. This spring our contractor will remove three hollow tree trunks from a small stream near the end of Mountain Ave. The hollow trees functioned as culverts by passing the stream under a former logging road. Now highly decomposed and blocking the upstream passage of fish, the hollow logs will be replaced with stream channel spanned by a new footbridge. The project is supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Patagonia, Inc.

Restoration Opportunities on Admiralty Island

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SAWC is partnering with the US Forest Service to conduct a site condition and restoration opportunity assessment of Admiralty Island’s Florence Lake and Ward Creek watersheds.  These remote watersheds were heavily logged and roaded in the 1980’s and 90’s while in private ownership.  The US Forest Services has now purchased this land, which will  become part of Admiralty Island National Monument.  Remote, rugged, and challenging to access, SAWC is helping with the effort to assess and restore these lands by bringing in technical expertise and evaluating if SAWC’s in-lieu fee mitigation program can be used to support wetland and stream restoration.

Klawock Sockeye Salmon Community Action Plan

Sockeye salmon from Klawock Lake have been important to people for thousands of years. Despite past restoration efforts, it is evident that returns over the last two decades have been significantly less than historically. In 2017, TNC and the Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership, with support from numerous agency, community, and tribal partners, convened a stakeholder meeting to evaluate the causes and effectiveness of actions to address this decline. The meeting also highlighted the island-wide need for increased community capacity to manage and restore habitat. This has set the stage for the development of a Klawock Sockeye Salmon Community Action Plan – a plan developed with multiple stakeholders and the community to collectively address sockeye salmon declines. SAWC has partnered with TNC, the Klawock Cooperative Association, and numerous organizations agencies, and stakeholders to improve management and habitat of Klawock Sockeye and Pacific Salmon on Prince of Wales Island.  We have contracted with Kai Environmental to help us develop the Klawock Sockeye Salmon Community Action Plan.

Past Projects

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The goal of this assessment was to compile a dataset and report outlining key aquatic resources within the City and Borough of Wrangell, including as assessment of the current habitat conditions, identification of sites that could benefit from restoration and treatment, and outlining watershed management challenges and opportunities. The project was carried out with support from teh US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wrangell Cooperative Association, US Forest Service, and Charlotte Martin Foundation. The full report is now available online!​

Picnic Creek Fish Passage

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Formerly the site of a deteriorating concrete fish ladder, the outlet of Juneau’s Picnic Creek at the Lena Point recreation site presented several barriers to safe passage from ocean to stream to the stream’s pink salmon population . With support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service as a project partner, SAWC contracted engineering firm Interfluve, Inc. to design a roughened channel stream as a replacement to the weathered fish ladder.  The US Forest Service, with the help of Glacier State Construction and Sealaska, completed the restoration work and SAWC fixed a perched culvert a the crossing of Lena Cove Rd.  Construction of the project was completed in 2018, allowing for full passage of fish species accessing the stream.

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