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The Alaska Region
Alaska has hundreds of thousands of acres of rivers, streams, estuaries, and coastal bays that provide diverse habitats for fish and other wildlife. Alaska’s environment is still among the most pristine in the world, but development, resource pressures, erosion, and marine debris pollution are hampering the ability of these habitats to support important fish and wildlife species. Since 1996, the NOAA Restoration Center has supported nearly 70 community restoration projects in the Alaska Region, benefiting more than 560 acres of estuarine and riparian habitat and opening approximately 80 miles of in-stream salmon habitat.
What We Do
Alaska is world-renowned for its fishing industry and healthy fish populations, many of which must migrate inland to spawn. More than half of the existing culverts constructed to carry streams under roads and path prevent salmon from migrating between the sea and land. We work with our partners to replace these passage barriers with new culverts that can accommodate fish migrations, thus helping to maintain Alaska’s wonderful natural resource of salmon.
Alaska’s coastal beaches collect marine debris from cargo vessels, abandoned fishing gear, and other sources. We are removing and preventing the accumulation of this debris in cooperation with the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
Case Study—Alaska Coastwalk Marine Debris Removal and Prevention Project
Alaska has nearly 35,000 miles of coastline—and the majority of it is inaccessible by road. For more than 15 years, the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies has been performing “Coastwalk,” where local citizens adopt a section of beach to walk and keep free of debris.
With funding from the NOAA Restoration Center, the Center has increased their Coastwalk effort to cleaning nearly 75 miles of shoreline, removing 4,600 lbs of debris, and engaging 450 volunteers. In addition to this effort, the Center has taken its marine debris know-how and created a challenge grant program. This will help support fledgling marine debris removal efforts across the state. In 2011, the Center will be mentoring 12 new cleanup organizations to conduct marine debris education and removals across Alaska.