What happens when fish can't reach their nurseries?
The Kenai Watershed Forum’s restoration plan targets two priority areas: fish passage and invasive species. Unrestricted access though stream corridors to spawning, rearing or over-wintering habitat is essential to maintaining salmon production. When the Kenai Watershed Forum began, the strategic plan analyzed States with failing salmon populations to determine how Alaska could do things right the first time around. The main issues from these example states revolved around maintaining fish passage, so that salmon could freely migrate along the entire length of a stream.
Learn more about KWF's Culvert Assessments
Each place where a road or trail crosses a stream is a potential barrier to salmon passage. Inadequately designed, installed, or maintained culverts can block upstream access for salmonids, especially juveniles. Makeshift bridges on ATV trails or a lack of any structure can also damage salmon habitat and restrict access.
Learn more about KWF's Fish Passage Projects
Plant species that are not native to Alaska can pose a great threat to our ecosystem. The Kenai Watershed Forum is currently targeting two invasive species on the Kenai Peninsula; Reed canarygrass and Elodea.
Reed canarygrass was originally introduced on the Kenai Peninsula to control erosion, yet the grass grows so well that even in the middle of streams, it can cause the channel to narrow or dam up completely. When this occurs in salmon streams, loss of fish habitat can occur, along with the creation of barriers to spawning and migration.
Reed Canary Grass Project
Elodea was most likely introduced to the Kenai Peninsula by the dumping of a household aquarium. This common pet store plant not only helps keep aquariums clean, it also reproduces by fragments and thrives in cold water. Unmanaged elodea will eventually choke out lakes resulting in a loss of fish passage and spawning habitat. It proves difficult for boats and float planes to get around once established.