Sometimes the best treasures are already right under our feet, just waiting for us to notice them. Such is the story with the thousands of rivers, streams, and lakes that are home to Alaska’s wild salmon.

In summers 2021-2023, Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF) and Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Trout Unlimited (KPTU) worked together to find and document local salmon habitat in the Kenai Peninsula area. Working with over thirty volunteers who contributed over three hundred hours time, we nominated 17.5 miles of stream and 1152 lake acres to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Anadromous Waters Catalog. If all nominations are confirmed these waters will be subject to state habitat protections and permitting requirements under Alaska Statute 16.05.871, and may also be adopted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough under borough ordinance 21.18 (links for 21.18 maps, and 21.18 regulations), which specifies protections including a fifty-foot riparian buffer zone.

Remarkably, nearly all the habitat we identified laid only a thirty minute drive from Kenai Watershed Forum’s office in Soldotna. The habitats we documented are the humbler headwaters of well-known local watersheds such as Soldotna Creek, Beaver Creek, and Moose River. These are our “backyard” salmon habitats that have been here all along.

Most local salmon habitat remains undocumented, and much work remains to be accomplished. In summer 2024 KWF and KPTU will continue collaborating, and will apply innovative predictive habitat modeling to help us target fieldwork efforts with help from Romey Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

For more questions about this project and to hear about opportunities to be involved, contact Kenai Watershed Forum at, or (907) 260-5449. Check out the two links below for a project map and project report, as well as a public lecture shared at Kenai Peninsula Brewing as part of Kenai Watershed Forum’s Fireside Chat series. We look forward to hearing from you!

Project Map & Report – Kenai Peninsula Area Salmon Habitat Mapping

KDLL Radio Kenai Conversation – Mapping Anadromous Waters (November 15, 2023)

Further reading on mapping Alaska’s Anadromous Waters

This work is funded by Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund project #54014, Trout Unlimited’s Embrace-a-Stream grant program, Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Kenai Community Foundation. Thank you!