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Wildlife Habitat

The focus of projects in some districts is the conservation and improvement of wildlife habitats. A variety of wildlife, from migratory waterfowl to Kodiak bears, benefit. Windbreaks and tree planting slow wind and provide shelter and food for wildlife. Planting a mixture of tree species helps prevent total losses to disease and severe weather; it also provides food, nesting areas, and cover for a variety of wildlife. Farmers are installing grass, tree, and shrub plantings, ponds, and other wildlife habitat at record rates. Some farmers plant or leave food plots of corn, millet, or other grains specifically for wildlife preservation.

Moose Resource & Habitat Enhancement

Anchorage and Alaska SWCDs have teamed on a project to enhance moose habitat and reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions. Working with the Alaska Moose Federation, the SWCDs and their other partners completed a study about moose-vehicle accidents that concluded that such accidents cost Alaska residents at least $13.9 million per year. Improved habitat coupled with responsible road construction are the goals of the project. Partners include Alaska Fish & Game, Statewide Moose Safety and Rebuilding Task Force, several organizations and Native associations. In 2007 a burn component was added to the habitat enhancement effort.

Chistochina Moose Habitat Restoration

Alaska SWCD is working with Alaska Fish & Game, Cheeshna Tribal Council and the Bureau of Land Management to crush about 50 acres of over-mature willow and spruce in swaths in sample locations in the Chistochina River area. The objective is to encourage new growth that is more palatable to moose, in an effort to improve moose habitat and populations. This was an inexpensive demonstration project to test the effectiveness of willow crushing.

Harding Lake Channel Rehabilitation

Through NRCS’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), Salcha-Delta SWCD worked toward a solution to low water levels at Harding Lake. A long list of partners, including state departments and federal government, University of Alaska Fairbanks, BLM, Fairbanks Northstar Bureau, the Harding Lake Association and volunteers, helped facilitate and continue this project. In 2006, a 1.75-mile trail was hydroaxed to allow for construction of an ice road to install a sheetpile diversion on Rogge Creek, which will allow water from the creek to replenish the receding lake. The improvement helps to restore fish and wildlife habitat at Harding Lake. Mission Lake Tide Gate Kodiak SWCD, working with Alaska Fish & Game and Kodiak Island Borough, as well as NRCS, helped create a tide gate to allow salmon to enter Mission Lake to spawn. The project also reduced the amount of seawater entering the lake and mixing with the fresh water during high tides, and reduced the erosion within the drainage area.

Alaska Clean Water Action

Homer SWCD is engaged in an ongoing project through the Alaska Clean Water Action to address water quality issues on Deep and Stariski creeks and the Ninilchik and Anchor Rivers. Another aspect of the project is to determine how changes in water conditions are affecting wildlife habitat, including juvenile fish. A further effort is identifying ATV crossings that have the greatest impact on habitat and water quality.

Salmon Migration Improvement

Two of several Wasilla SWCD projects that combine education, watershed stewardship and wildlife habitat enhancement, the Crocker Creek Step Pool Maintenance and Coles Road Culvert Mitigation projects, improved salmon migration by removing obstacles. Under the direction of SWCD and US Fish and Wildlife staff, students built step pools at Coles Road to mitigate the perched culvert. Maintenance of the step pools have improved fish access on Crocker Creek.

Land Rehabilitation for Wildlife Habitat

One of the facets of Salcha-Delta’s Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance program, completed with US Army Alaska, is to improve the wildlife habitat on military lands. This includes rejuvenating moose browse, establishing bison graze and containing invasive weeds.