Lush temperate rainforest surrounds a river delta on Prince of Wales Island. (Lee Kuepper)
Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is part of the largest remaining intact temperate rainforest, but decades of unsustainable old-growth logging have left scars of degraded habitat across the forest. Trout Unlimited has advocated to end this destructive practice for over a decade. Our work helped usher in a new direction for the forest, first in 2021 when the U.S. Forest Service announced they are focusing investments on restoration, recreation, and resiliency instead of logging subsidies, and again in 2023 when Roadless Rule protections were reinstated on 9.3 million acres of the forest. Now we are working with the Forest Service and local communities to restore fish habitat in areas of ecological and economic importance. Our Fish Habitat Mapping Project is expanding important layers of protection to previously undocumented anadromous streams.
The Fairweather Range southeast of Yakutat. (Sam Roche)
A sow with two cubs cruises along a Tongass beach. (Sam Roche)
Yakutat Restoration Project
The Situk River hosts the largest known population of steelhead in Alaska. These incredible fish, which are listed or endangered in many other places in the country, continue to thrive here. Over 60 percent of the steelhead caught in Southeast Alaska are caught on the Situk, making it the largest such sport fishery in the region. Trout Unlimited is replacing two culverts that impede fish passage on Situk River tributaries. Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helps support this work.
Kuiu Restoration Project
Kuiu Island is located in a remote part of southeast Alaska. This mostly uninhabited island is home to countless salmon streams and one of the densest populations of black bears in the world. Parts of the island were heavily logged in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving a network of logging roads throughout. Trout Unlimited is replacing five culverts that currently disconnect important spawning and rearing habitat for coho, Dolly Varden, and cutthroat trout. This project is reconnecting miles of upstream habitat. Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helps support this work.
Alaska Fish Habitat Mapping Project
Steelhead are “officially” found in over 300 streams in the Tongass, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Anadromous Waters Catalog (AWC). But we believe the real number is probably twice that. Our staff works closely with volunteers to expand Alaska’s AWC by documenting previously unknown anadromous waters and species. By cataloging where fish live, we begin to develop strategies to better protect their instream habitat and preserve the clean water they need to thrive. Over 67.4 miles of water with documented fish species have been added to the AWC since the project’s inception in 2018.
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