Historic effort allows salmon passage for the first time in nearly 90 years
ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Today The Conservation Fund announced the completion of the four-year, $7.5 million effort to remove the Lower Eklutna River dam in Southcentral Alaska. For the first time in 89 years, the five species of Pacific salmon that live in the Eklutna River, located 20 miles north of Anchorage, can now move upstream to additional spawning habitat.
The Conservation Fund partnered with the Native Village of Eklutna and the Eklutna Native Corporation on the work to remove the dam. “This has been an exciting and rewarding project for the Eklutna Dena’ina people who still live and fish along the river,” said Curtis McQueen, CEO of Eklutna Incorporated. “Eklutna River salmon are an important part of our culture and we are hopeful that this is the first big step toward the recovery of the salmon runs that our people once relied on for subsistence.”
The Conservation FundU.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) said: “The Eklutna people are to be commended for tackling and completing the difficult task of removing the Lower Eklutna Dam. This spectacular and high-profile project has captured popular attention and earned tremendous political and financial support.”
According to Brad Meiklejohn, project director for The Conservation Fund: “This was the fastest and most efficient major dam removal effort ever completed in the country. We had tremendous support from the public, from all levels of government and from a wide array of funders.”
Project support was provided by the Rasmuson Foundation, the Open Rivers Fund of Resources Legacy Fund, the M.J. Murdock Trust, the Marnell Company, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through its Alaska Fish and Wildlife Fund and ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program, the Alaska Community Foundation, Patagonia, Trout Unlimited, New Belgium Brewing, and Wells Fargo.
Removing the Lower Eklutna River dam is the first step in the recovery of the Eklutna River. “But the salmon need more water. With the lower dam removed it is now time to find ways to restore normal water flows to the Eklutna River,” added Congressman Young. Efforts are now underway with the power utilities in the region to put more water back into the Eklutna River.
“We waited a long time for this moment. The Eklutna people are still here and we are anxiously awaiting for the salmon to return,” said McQueen.
A public celebration will be held on September 22nd at Eklutna Lake. For more details visit: www.conservationfund.org/projects/native-village-of-eklutna
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect eight million acres of land, including more than 337,000 acres in Alaska.
Brad Meiklejohn | The Conservation Fund | 907-694-9060 | email@example.com
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