Resurrection Creek Restoration - Overview

Background

Resurrection Creek was home to Alaskas first gold rush just over a Century ago. Stream placer deposits within the project area were mined using high-pressure water jets (hydraulic mining) during the first three decades of the 1900s. In the mining process, valley bottom alluvial gravels (and cobbles and boulders) in the project area were worked down to an underlying clay layer, often 10 or more feet below the ground surface while the coarse alluvial sediments were pushed into numerous tailings piles as high as 25 feet along the valley bottom.

Tailings have disconnected or buried the historic complex of stream channels and wetlands that provided high quality habitat for salmon, bears, bald eagles, moose and other fish and wildlife species and resulted in entrenchment of the stream and cutoff access from the historic floodplain. The direct impact of disturbance and loss of the streams ability to access the floodplain have severely altered aquatic habitat and riparian vegetation composition.

Results: Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restored by Design

The results of this restoration are very positive. Because of the natural design of this channel and its wide floodplains, the newly constructed channel easily handled flows from an abnormally high snowmelt runoff in June 2006, with minimal bank erosion. The response to the restoration by wildlife is extremely encouraging. Numerous harlequin ducks have moved into the areas around the deep pools that hold fish. All five species of Pacific salmon have been observed in the restored channel and side channels, with nearly 70 Chinook, over 4000 pinks, 175 coho, and nearly 100 chums spawning in this reach following restoration in 2006. Vegetation now flourishes throughout the project area while salmon transport tons of marine derived nutrients to the floodplain and side channels. This one-mile valley reach of Resurrection Creek now displays characteristics of a naturally functioning, self-maintaining ecosystem. (USDA, 2007)