2010 AWRA Alaska Section Annual Conference

Setting Priorities for Restoring Fish Passage - Corinne Smith , The Nature Conservancy (co-authors: Marcu Geist and Corinne Smith, The Nature Conservancy)


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has an inventory of over 320 culverts under state, borough, and private roads, and the railroad in the Mat-Su Basin. ADF&G assesses the culverts for their adequacy to allow juvenile (55 mm length) coho salmon to pass through them. The assessment considers culvert slope, stream constriction, and culvert embedment or perch. Within the Mat-Su Basin, more than one-third of culverts are inadequate for fish passage. The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership has identified culverts that block fish passage as a restoration priority. To accomplish its restoration objectives, the partnership’s Strategic Action Plan identifies the need for a multi-agency Fish Passage Improvement Plan that prioritizes work on state, borough, railroad, and private culverts. As a first step for that plan, a Fish Passage Prioritization Framework has been developed to identify the “worst of the worst” impediments to fish passage in the Mat-Su Basin. Culverts received scores for stream anadromy, initial impediment assessment, constriction, and gradient and are placed in tiers for restoration priority. Additional factors, including perch and habitat quantity and quality, could not be considered yet due to the lack of consistent data across the basin.

Topic: Fish habitat