Susitna River Alaska© Ryan Peterson

Susitna River


Susitna River

Keeping a classic Alaskan river wild

The proposed 100-mile road would cross 182 waterways (at least 83 with wild salmon) within the West Susitna region. See detailed map below.

From its glacial origins near Denali and the Alaska Range, the Susitna flows over 300 miles to Cook Inlet. It sustains five species of Pacific salmon—including Alaska’s fourth largest run of Chinook—as well as rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, burbot, Arctic char & lake trout. Its watershed is home to many of the state’s iconic animals, including moose, brown and black bear and the 40,000-head Nelchina caribou herd.

The Susitna has faced a number of threats over the decades, but the latest, a $350 million publicly-funded industrial access road would literally pave the way for hard-rock mining and other development. The West Su Access Road is a proposed state-funded 100-mile road crossing nearly 150 streams through the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to mining claims. Wild Salmon Center and our Defend the West Susitna coalition are working to protect this river against threats to the region’s hunting, fishing, and recreation economy, and its intact habitat.

The proposed West Su Access Road would cross 182 streams, nearly 150 catalogued as anadromous. But less than half the culverts proposed for the crossings will be designed for fish passage. (Map by Wild Salmon Center).

Stopping a Mega-Dam

The era of big dams is over but the state of Alaska has repeatedly proposed a mega-dam on the Susitna River.

The most recent plans call for the second tallest dam in the United States. The latest Susitna mega-dam project would flood 40,000 acres of prime hunting and recreation wilderness near Denali National Park above the dam, and threaten salmon rearing, migratory, and spawning habitat below the dam.

In June 2016, Gov. Bill Walker announced that he was suspending the dam project, due to state budget shortfalls.

In the quest for permanent protection for the Susitna River, Wild Salmon Center will continue to support to the Susitna River Coalition—a group of small business owners, recreational guides, retired teachers and citizens that formed in 2011.

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