Resurrection Bay Watershed Conservation Program.
Using science and citizen energy to monitor and enhance our watershed.
The mission of RBCA’s Resurrection Bay Watershed Program is to protect and enhance the Resurrection Bay watershed through monitoring, habitat assessment, public education and advocacy of science-based resource management.
The Resurrection Bay Watershed is relatively small in size, just 350 square miles, or 224,000 acres. It has a total of 1,000 miles of waterways, and supports all five species of salmon within its 700 miles of anadromous streams. Steep erodible soils, many active glaciers and frequent major rain/flood events all combine to make this watershed unique and challenging to manage for residential development, salmon production, and flood control. Other important management criteria include recreational opportunities, biodiversity and wilderness values. Collecting ecological data will allow us to define where we can most effectively enhance habitat which in turn can increase salmon stocks and improve sport fishing. For the Seward area, a health watershed equals a healthy economy.
Developing community support
The health of a watershed effects all who live within its boundaries. RBCA has made a concerted effort to reach out and connect with area citizens, agencies and businesses. The Resurrection Bay Watershed Program received initial financial support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Alaska Coastal Program. In the fall of 2007, RBCA sent a watershed survey to all area residents. On May 7 of 2008 a watershed workshop was held to bring together regional scientist and the community to discuss the many factors that make the Resurrection Bay watershed a unique and challenging area to manage. Participating institutions included the Alaska SeaLife Center, Kenai Fjords National Park, Chugach National Forest, City of Seward, Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game, US Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Alaska Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Department of Natural Resources.
Looking south at Resurrection Bay from above the town of Seward
Watershed program goals include:
• Promote community awareness and understanding of local ecosystems and associated conservation issues.
• Protect the Resurrection Bay watershed through education, outreach, partnerships, and citizen science.
• Monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act and other state and federal environmental regulations to ensure the protection of watershed resources.
• Develop projects to monitor and enhance the health of the Resurrection Bay Watershed.
There are several unique features within this watershed that make it especially challenging to manage. First, the topography is especially steep with narrow river valleys and the rock is predominantly very unstable shale. Second, coastal weather systems often bring in large storm systems with rainfall events exceeding 10 per day every 3 to 5 years. These flood events transport huge quantities of rock from the mountains down to the floodplains. This has major effect on development as well as salmon habitat.
Educational programs not only expose students to modern science, but also provide valuable knowledge of our local ecosystem. Field projects are especially valuable in developing cooperative working skills. The Resurrection Bay Watershed Program will work to develop fun, educational programs to fit with our local school science programs. Proactive management is the most effective way to keep our land healthy and productive.