JUNEAU, ALASKA (RPRN) 7/06/2009– Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the Klawock River Salmon Passage and Habitat Restoration project will receive support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding pays for the construction of a fish passage structure through the causeway on the Klawock River estuary and restores estuarine habitat on Alaskaâ€™s Prince of Wales Island while creating employment for 22 people.
The project is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy in Alaska, the Klawock Watershed Council, Alaska Department of Transportation, Ducks Unlimited, Alaska Trollers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directs $992,062 to the Klawock River project.
â€œRestoring salmon passage is vital work in Alaska. The local economy depends on healthy salmon runs, and salmon need access to high quality habitat,â€ said Rob Bosworth, who directs the Conservancyâ€™s restoration programs in Alaskaâ€™s Tongass region. â€œA history of productive partnerships is once again proving successful in restoring habitat and providing jobs for rural communities.â€
This project restores fish passageÂ between the Klawock River and its estuary. ThisÂ allows out-migrating juvenile fish to access 460 acres of eelgrass habitatÂ and allows adult salmonÂ to reach more than 65 miles of stream and lake habitat.Â A central feature of the estuarine habitat restoration is the placement of a concrete fish passage structure beneath a causeway along the Craig to Klawock highway on Prince of Wales Island.Â Normal tidal flow at this location will resume, creating improved conditions for wild salmon.
â€œIn terms of recovery, we hope to see increased growth ofÂ eelgrass inside the lagoon, which is important habitat for many fish species including salmon as well as full restoration of fish passage,â€ said Randy Hagenstein, director of the Conservancy in Alaska.
The Klawock River system supports pink, chum, coho, and sockeye salmon, as well as steelhead, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden char. All of these contribute to sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries, but they are decreasing in abundance. Prior to the construction of the highway in 1964, freshwater from the Klawock River mixed freely with the Klawock River Lagoon and Klawock Bay.Â The construction of the highway has blocked all connection between river and sea through the isthmus, creating a barrier to fish passage, according to state and federal agency biologists and the Klawock Watershed Council.Â The consensus is that this blockage would not be permitted if it were proposed today, and should be removed to help restore the fishery.
About the NRDC:
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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