Instream Flow Protection: Southeast - Phase 17
Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Acquisition
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Reservation of water (ROW) applications were submitted to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) for Leask Creek Reach A, Unuk River Reach A, and Unuk River Reach B.
ADF&G decided not to submit applications on the five reaches initially anticipated. The Dangerous and Italio rivers ROWs will likely be completed in 2023 and 2024, respectively, after five years of flow data have been recorded in order to avoid required revisions following early submissions (final ROWS require five years of data). The Virginia, Saltery, and Cabin creeks ROWs had the necessary five years of flow data on record, but were bypassed due to the likelihood that conditions have changed due to climate change. Instead, four other high value salmon stream reaches with five years of flow data were completed and submitted (Hatchery Creek, Leask Creek, and two reaches of the Unuk River), described below:
The Hatchery Creek watershed located on Prince of Wales Island drains 33 square miles and is an important subsistence sockeye system. This reach of Hatchery Creek has been specified as important to anadromous fish (under AS 16.05.871) as Anadromous Water Catalog stream number 106-30-10670-2004-3031 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Chum, coho, pink, and sockeye salmon, steelhead trout, Dolly Varden char and cutthroat trout utilize this reach of Hatchery Creek for a portion of, or all of, their spawning, incubation, rearing, and passage life phases in this watershed.
The Unuk River flows 80 miles from British Columbia, Canada, into Southeast Alaska and drains 745 square miles. These two reaches of the Unuk River have been specified as important to anadromous fish (under AS 16.05.871) as Anadromous Water Catalog stream number 101-75-10300 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Chinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden char, and eulachon utilize these reaches. The Unuk is one of the top five Chinook producers and is known for having some of the largest Chinook in Southeast Alaska. It is a significant producer of fish for local communities and Tribes that rely on the river for traditional and cultural practices and food sovereignty. The lower watershed is in Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimshian territories.
Leask Creek flows out of Leask Lake to saltwater at Leask Cove in George Inlet, approximately 12 miles northeast of Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Island. This reach of Leask Creek has been specified as important to anadromous fish (under AS 16.05.871) as Anadromous Water Catalog stream number 101-45-10320 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Coho, sockeye, and pink salmon, Dolly Varden char, and cutthroat trout utilize this reach of Leask Creek for a portion of, or all of, their spawning, incubation, rearing, and passage life phases in this watershed.
The rivers of SE AK support some of North America’s most viable and productive salmon and steelhead fisheries. Salmon and steelhead depend on sufficient quantities of water to meet their spawning, rearing, incubation, overwintering, and migration habitat requirements. This project will benefit salmon and steelhead populations (including those used for important subsistence fisheries) throughout SE AK by legally reserving water needed to sustain their production.