Russian River Stream Watch Fencing Project: Longterm Stewardship

Alaska Chapter Backcountry Hunters & Anglers & USFS at the fence site,

Sunday June 9th, 2024.



Every year over 150,000 anglers, nearly a quarter of the population of Alaska, fish along the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers. Many of these anglers come from across the country to experience one of the two “red” (sockeye) salmon runs. During peak season the banks of the river look more like a theme park than a wild Alaskan river.


In the past, this ease of access led to habitat destruction with anglers trampling the thick underbrush as they tried to access the river. Like many things in nature, this created a ripple effect that led to bank erosion, widening of the river, warmer water temperatures and ultimately threatened the salmon population. In the 1990s an organization called StreamWatch started installing fencing along the banks to direct angles to designated access points. The results were monumental and within 10 years erosion slowed. Today, the Russian River is surrounded by thick vegetation with dedicated pathways and signs to guide anglers to access points.


This year, the Alaska Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers along with the Armed Forces Initiative and service members from Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson installed the final fencing along the Russian River ahead of Salmon opener. We worked alongside US Forest Service and StreamWatch volunteers to emplace barriers and fencing to protect sensitive sites and archaeological digs. As we worked, we were regaled with stories and photos from the past which showed the level of destruction before organizations stepped in to help.


The next weekend I returned to the Russian, but this time I traded in leather gloves and a hard hat for a rod and reel. While I saw more bears than fish on this trip, I know they will make their migration soon and will continue to for generations to come thanks to organizations and people who care.





   Installing fence along the Russian River.                            Brown bear watching for fish.                           

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