Alaska’s Network of Fish Habitat Partnerships: Working for Healthy, Sustainable Fisheries;
Southeast Alaska Partnership will also hold symposia next year
November 20, 2012
(SitNews) - Each year, after the shovels have been put away and waders stowed, a broad cross-section of individuals and organizations interested in salmon and involved in on-the-ground efforts to ensure that important habitats are identified, safeguarded, and restored in the Mat-Su region gather for the Mat-Su Salmon Science and Conservation Symposium. This 2-day event, organized by the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership, provides a forum for the sharing of information and lessons learned, celebrating of successes, and planning for the future of salmon and their habitat in this region.
Over 120 participants representing dozens of private, non-profit, governmental, and tribal entities met in Wasilla November 7-8 for the 5th annual symposium. Dr. Bob Lackey from Oregon State University kicked off this year’s event and generated lively discussion with lessons learned from the Pacific Northwest with a presentation titled “Straight Talk about the Future of Salmon.”
The 2012 Keynote Speaker was Dr. Bob Lackey, from Oregon State University, where he is a professor of fisheries and political sciences. In his book Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon, Dr. Lackey creates an anthology of policy prescriptions to keep salmon in the Pacific Northwest into the next 100 years.
Topics addressed by discussion groups at the Salmon Science & Conservation Symposium included:
1. Science Needs for Salmon Habitat Conservation
2. Outreach Tools for Fish Habitat Partnerships
3. Ensuring Fish Passage at Roads and Railroads
4. Conserving Priority Wetlands for Salmon
5. Invasive Species in Mat-Su Waters
6. Climate Change Impacts to Water Quality and Quantity
7. Motorized Off-road Recreation & Salmon
8. Thriving Fish and Growing Communities in the Mat-Su
9. Understanding and Protecting Ground and Surface Waters
10. Balancing our Salmon Resource with Large-scale Resource Development
11. Where Have All the Salmon Gone?
12. Importance of Overwintering Habitat for Juvenile Salmon
This year’s event was particularly special because Corinne Smith, Mat-Su Basin Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, received national recognition for her contribution to aquatic resource conservation. “Corinne has done so much for habitat conservation and scientific research not only in the Mat-Su Basin, but all of Alaska. Congratulations on a well-deserved award" said the National Fish Habitat Partnership’s Board Chair Kelly Hepler. “On behalf of the National Fish Habitat Board, it is an honor to award her with the 2012 Scientific Achievement Award.”
“Corinne has done so much for habitat conservation and scientific research not only in the Mat-Su Basin, but all of Alaska,” says Hepler.
Smith coordinates the Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership in its efforts to safeguard salmon habitat in the Mat-Su, a largely rural region that in recent years has faced changes such as urban sprawl.
“We know what salmon need, and the partnership is intent on ensuring it’s all in place. People and salmon can continue to co-exist here if we provide what fish require for survival. But ultimately it’s up to all of us to keep salmon habitat from unraveling like it has in the lower 48,” says Smith.
The Scientific Achievement Award honors outstanding achievement in the use of science to improve fish habitat conservation. Corinne spearheaded the development of the Mat-Su Partnership in 2005 and initiated its strategic planning process. Additionally, she and Marcus Geist developed a map atlas to prioritize conservation of salmon watersheds in the Mat-Su Basin. Through her leadership and advancement of science applications, the accomplishments of the Mat-Su Partnership have steadily expanded.
Under Smith’s leadership, the diverse membership of the Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership has grown to 49 entities. This membership is united by a clear purpose: Ensure thriving fish and healthy communities can co-exist. The partnership promotes a collaborative approach – not regulation – to secure healthy habitat for future generations.
The Mat-Su Partnership is part of a broader network of fish habitat partnerships in the U.S., and one of three recognized fish habitat partnerships in Alaska. Others include the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership and the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership; the newest candidate for membership in the nationwide network is the Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership. Voluntary, locally-driven, and non-regulatory, these partnerships help identify and fund local projects and leverage the resources and expertise of member organizations to ultimately benefit Alaska’s native fishes and their habitat.
The Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership will hold a two-day symposium featuring discussions on science and policy for both marine and freshwater fish habitats across the Kenai Peninsula Borough April 17-18, 2013 at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer. The Southeast Alaska and Southwest Alaska Partnerships will also hold symposia next year. These events will offer an opportunity to learn more about the partnerships and efforts to conserve fisheries resources in the regions they encompass. You can also visit their websites or contact the local or statewide coordinators.
In Alaska, The U.S, Fish and Wildlife Service partners with private landowners, the State of Alaska, non-profits, tribal entities, universities, other federal agencies, and others to maintain and/or restore important habitats for native fish and wildlife through the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) and other programs. The Service pays up to 50% of project costs and local Service biologists provide informal advice on the design and location of potential projects and capacity for on-the-ground project implementation and monitoring.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
On the Web:
2012 Mat-Su Salmon Science & Conservation Symposium Booklet
Alaska FHP websites
Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership
Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership
Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership
Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership
Sources of News:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife
The Nature Conservancy
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