Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Alaska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Alaska Project

Salmon habitat and shoreline vulnerability to recreational boat wakes in Big Lake, Alaska

January 2023 - September 2024


Participating Agencies

  • USGS Science Support Partnership (SSP)

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, in south-central Alaska, implements a successful cost share program to restore shorelines along freshwaters. However, landowners are concerned that an increase in recreational boating to create large wakes for jet skis and other watersports are undercutting these efforts, leading to increased erosion and potential sedimentation on vulnerable salmon habitat. This research aims to quantify the extent of this potential issue, both in terms of bank erosion and effects on salmon egg-laying habitat. It will inform potential future management decisions to limit ballast boat use for wake generation, and identify the shorelines and underwater habitats where implementing such actions might be most important for conservation. Key partners on the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, as well as the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and private landowners who implement the cost-share program. Results of this research will yield a model of shoreline and salmon egg-laying habitat vulnerability. Presentations to stakeholders are also anticipated as part of the management and decision-making process.