Little Susitna River
Salmon History from 1886 to 2012
The Little Susitna River and salmon history can be characterized by three distinct eras: First, from the late 1880 up until the 1960's; Second, from the 1960's thru 1996; and Third, from 1996 until the present. The first era is the mining era from the 1880's until 1964 (Good Friday Earthquake). Lode gold mining with cyanide leaching for gold recovery eventually eliminated native salmon populations from the Little Susitna River. The second era is characterized by development of the Fort Richardson, Fire Lake, and Big Lake Hatcheries. All three hatcheries mixed local King and Coho stocks with at least six King and Coho stocks imported from Washington and Oregon, as well as Kodiak, Seward, and Petersburg, Alaska. During the second era, 1964-1996, 10=20 million Coho fry/smolt, as recorded, were stocked into the Little Susitna River. Additionally, millions of unreported/undocumented stockings also occurred. The third era, 1996 until present, all reported stockings ceased. Since then, the King and Coho returns to the Little Susitna River have declined, most notably in the last 2 to 3 years. Since the late 1970'ss, the sport fishing exploitation, 50%, has occurred, even during the last three years of small Coho returns. These smaller, less than 25,000 returns are the result of public access, Coho availability, hook and release mortality, parasites, diseases, invasive northern pike, warm water temperatures (13˚ C), blocked culverts, beaver dam blockage, urbanization and impaired water quality. These are all issues occurring in the Little Susitna River today.
I ran into Dr. Maw at the airport Monday evening. We chatted while I waited for my wife's flight to arrive. This paper below came up, and I picked up a copy this morning. Thought some would find it of interest.
The 21-page paper described above was prepared by Roland Maw PhD, UCIDA Executive Director and is available by request from:
43961 K-Beach Road, Suite E
Soldotna, AK 99669