Habitat Enhancement Projects

Examples of recent Habitat Enhancement Projects that have been funded by the EVOSTC are described below.

FY17-22: Copper River Watershed Enhancement Project ($8,152,070 of EVOSTC funding): The Copper River Watershed Project, with the support of ADOT&PF, Eyak Corporation, Cordova District Fishermen United, ADF&G and the City of Cordova, removes and replaces non-performing high priority culverts to restore fish passage along the Copper River Highway. The Highway acts as a dike on the west side of the Copper River Delta, along which project proponents have identified the top 13 priority culverts for restoration under EVOS and one culvert which will be replaced by project partner ADOT&PF within the project area. By removing or replacing these 13 culverts, the project works to restore hydrologic function and fish passage to as close to natural conditions as possible on the Copper River Delta. This project will expand access to over 22 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous and resident fishes, while concurrently reducing the risk of infrastructure damage (i.e. highway washouts) during flood events. This area is identified as an EVOS-affected geographic region and the project goal is to mitigate EVOS impacts by improving conditions for EVOS-affected and injured species and the people that depend upon these resources. In addition to improving aquatic ecosystem health, this project will improve availability and access to resources for recreation, tourism and subsistence.

FY19-21 ADNR KRSMA Riverbank Protection Project: Funny River and Morgan’s Landing Project 19190121 ($756,235 of EVOSTC funding): This ADNR project in the Kenai River watershed benefits EVOS affected resources such as Dolly Varden, Pink Salmon and Sockeye Salmon and EVOS impacted services such as tourism and recreation, by protecting habitat impacted by foot traffic accessing these fisheries. The Funny River restoration project includes 105 feet of elevated light-penetrating walkway at the confluence of the Kenai and Funny Rivers to replace a previous section of walkway that had outlived its intended useful life and was removed for public safety. Two sets of river access stairs are also being constructed to redirect human impacts and accommodate better managed river access. The original walkway was part of an EVOSTC-funded project from the mid-1990s. The current project also includes three interpretive displays to help educate recreational users on the importance of protecting natural vegetation along river banks and to promote public participation in the long-term success of the project objectives. The Morgan’s Landing restoration restores 700 linear feet of stream bank habitat along the Kenai River; constructs 24 linear feet of ELP walkway with one set of river access stairs; and installs three interpretive displays to help educate the public on the importance of redirecting human impacts and to promote public participation in the long-term success of the project and its objectives. This project is supported by the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board and the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

FY17-19: Kenai Watershed Forum: Stream Watch Program ($100,000 of EVOSTC Funding for two field seasons): These stream protection activities focused on the intense summer public use centers on the southern Kenai Peninsula, around the stream and river mouths of the Kasilof, Ninilchik and Anchor Rivers and Deep Creek for the 2018 and 2019 summer field seasons. With EVOSTC funding, the Kenai Watershed Forum's Stream Watch program was able to increase and leverage its existing resources to protect and restore impacted segments of these rivers, assist agency partners with on the ground efforts to clean up river mouths and beaches, and help educate the public through the efforts of Stream Watch's teams of trained volunteers.

FY17-19: ADNR State Park’s Riverbank Restoration and Protection Projects ($2.2 million of EVOSTC funding): This suite of projects encompassed six riverbank restoration projects on the Kenai Peninsula that address fish habitat restoration and the protection of stream banks that support numerous species affected by EVOS. The projects targeted habitat that had been adversely impacted by human activity and made improvements that will provide continuing habitat protection into the future by rerouting human use onto elevated light penetrating boardwalks and stairs to access the rivers. These projects are supported and aligned with the Kenai River Comprehensive Management Plan and are supported by NOAA, the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board and Kenai River Sportfishing Association.

FY17-20: Buskin River Watershed ($4.5 million of EVOSTC funding): The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the US Fish and Wildlife Service worked with three landowners in the Buskin River watershed on Kodiak Island to implement a watershed-scale project to restore aquatic connectivity and natural ecosystem processes to the entire watershed. The project removes 20 culverts and associated historical debris that have historically blocked adult and juvenile fish movements to quality spawning and rearing habitats and/or negatively impacted aquatic ecosystem processes such as water temperature and flow, sediment transport that maintains aquatic habitats, and marine-derived nutrient delivery to the freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem. The project has replaced and removed degraded and non-functional existing culverts to restore access to 6 miles of stream habitat and 53 acres of lakes in the Buskin River watershed and supports sockeye salmon and Dolly Varden near the community of Kodiak. Increased salmon abundance in the Buskin River and associated nearshore marine waters additionally benefits other EVOS-affected species in the area that utilize salmon as a direct source of food and nutrients. This project has also helped restore EVOS-affected services, specifically the important subsistence salmon fishery at the mouth of the Buskin River, recreation throughout the watershed, and the commercial fishery in Chiniak Bay.

FY15-17: Kenai Peninsula Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project ($8.1 million of EVOSTC funding): This project included the collaboration and support of ADF&G, ADOT&PF, USFWS,NOAA/NMGS, Kenai Watershed Forum, Trout Unlimited, and the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust to improve fish passage at key road crossings on the Kenai Peninsula (mostly culverts). The project focused on high resource watersheds to eliminate at least fifty-five barriers on the Kenai Peninsula and improve fish access to an estimated 100 miles of important spawning, rearing and migratory habitats, including those related to lands previously protected with EVOSTC funding.

FY12-16: Cordova Clean Water Projects ($450,000 of EVOSTC funding): NOAA worked in conjunction with local communities in the Spill-impacted area to support projects focusing on reducing harbor run off of polluted waters, and improving hazardous substance disposal and snow removal and storage to further reduce water pollution affecting nearshore and marine species.