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Project Information

Title: Kodiak Island Enhancement Proposal Buskin River Watershed

Project Year and Number: 2017: 17170119

Other Fiscal Years and Numbers for this Project: None

Principal Investigator (PI): Erika Ammann, NOAA

Assisting Personnel: None

Research Location: Kodiak Island Buskin River Watershed

Restoration Category: Habitat Protection

Injured Resources Addressed: Bald Eagles , Black Oystercatchers , Cormorants , Dolly Varden , Kittlitz's Murrelets , Marbled Murrelets , Pink Salmon , Sea Otters , Sockeye Salmon , Subsistence

Abstract: This restoration proposal focuses on improving connectivity and ecological processes for injured EVOS species and services within the Buskin River watershed by removing or replacing 20 culverts identified by ADF&G as barriers to the free movement of fish including salmonids, trout and other native species. These 20 culverts include both total and partial fish passage barriers that impede the upstream movement of adult and juvenile salmon and native fish as well as contribute to local channel degradation, scour and other impacts.

Unrestricted fish access to spawning, rearing, and overwintering habitats is essential to maintaining salmonid production as well as healthy populations of resident trout and other fish (Jackson 2003). Barriers to fish passage also degrade riparian and in-stream ecosystem function. Natural processes such as sediment transport, water flow, water temperature regimes and the transfer of marine derived nutrients beneficial to mammals, birds, and fish species in the watershed are all affected the lack of connectivity caused by barriers. Increased bio complexity and species resilience to urban development and climate stressors is more fully realized when aquatic species passage is provided. Removing aquatic species passage barriers is expected to allow access to additional spawning areas for adult salmon and allow access to additional feeding, rearing, and overwintering areas for juvenile salmonids and other species resulting in better survival. Fish distribution and presence throughout the Buskin Watershed and in adjacent marine waters will be improved.

Returning salmon make an important contribution to marine, freshwater, and forest ecosystems of Kodiak, interacting with mammals, birds, and fish. Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) are a direct food source for a variety of marine, terrestrial, and avian species. Salmon also deliver large amounts of marine-derived nutrients (MDN) to freshwater ecosystems through their eggs, excretion, or carcasses,which improves the productivity of the wider Kodiak ecosystem. Species and habitats affected by EVOS are likely to have a direct reliance on the annual pulse of returning salmon and the nutrients they deliver. For example, marine mammals follow the movements and timing of migrating salmon to feed on this rich resource. Also, Dolly Varden follow salmon returning to freshwater and feed directly on salmon eggs and decaying carcasses; further, Dolly Varden benefit from the salmon-transferred MDN that improve overall aquatic ecosystem productivity. Implementing this project will restore habitat connectivity and riparian function in the Buskin River watershed,benefiting the overall watershed ecological health and in turn contributing benefits to injured and recovering species as well as subsistence fishing, sport fishing,recreation, and other services injured by the spill.

To focus the restoration efforts in areas of concern to the EVOSTC, queries were run in the USFWS Information for Planning and Conservation (IPaC) database and in the NOAA Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) to provide a summary of coastal resources that are at risk, including important biological resources,sensitive shorelines, and human-use resources. From these queries habitat restoration in the Buskin River system was identified as a priority because of the importance to the trust resources of EVOS and the supporting agencies (NOAA, USFWS, ADF&G), willingness of the landowners, and opportunities for in kind support.

The projects chosen will restore access to over 6 miles of upstream habitat and 53 acres of lakes in the Buskin River drainage. By restoring unimpeded movement for salmon and trout species and reconnecting fragmented natural processes, the productivity and resilience of the Buskin River watershed and greater Women’s Bay and Chiniak Bay areas will be improved.

This project complements other conservation efforts in the Kodiak Archipelago, adding greater natural diversity and improving environmental resiliency in the face of climate change. At 10 sites, the existing road crossing culvert will be removed entirely by the US Coast Guard. At the other 10 sites, the existing culvert will be replaced with a bridge or larger diameter embedded culvert or bottomless arch culvert, following the United States Forest Service (USFS) stream simulation methodology (USFS 2008). Large historical debris from old culverts failures have been observed throughout the system. This debris is detrimental to water quality and fish passage and will be removed where possible. Where necessary,adjacent stream banks will be re-vegetated with native vegetation and stream channels restored to the natural slope and hydraulic capacity. In addition to improving fish passage, installing correctly-sized stream simulation culverts will greatly reduce the likelihood of catastrophic road failures in the future (Cafferata et al. 2004) and enhance aquatic habitat quality in the area adjacent to the road crossings for all aquatic organisms, especially for juvenile salmonids.


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Proposal: View PDF (2,305 KB)

Funding Recommendations: View

Funding Detail For: 2017

Quarterly Project Tasks For: 2017

Annual Report: 2017: Due 07/01/2018

Final Report: Draft Final Report Due 4/15/18

Publications from this Project: None Available