Nature & Science
Though relatively small (113 acres), the park contains a variety of habitat types including temperate rainforest, open meadow, estuary, anadromous river, and semi-protected marine intertidal shoreline. The park’s vegetation is dominated by the coastal temperate rainforest typical of southeastern Alaska and is characterized by the Sitka spruce/western hemlock closed-canopy forest type. The northeastern corner of the park exhibits old-growth characteristics such as multiple canopy layers, trees of varying diameters, snags, and woody debris. Non-forested areas in the park include the Indian River estuary and associated wetlands, the beach fringe, and the historic Tlingit fort site, which is a maintained grassy opening enclosed by the surrounding forest. The marine intertidal area is unusually diverse and productive.
Pink and chum salmon enter the intertidal and lower floodplain channel segments of the Indian River to spawn from mid-July through September. Coho and chinook salmon, Dolly Varden char, and steelhead trout migrate through the park.
The park’s marine shoreline areas support a variety of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds during spring and fall. Bald eagles, gulls, crows, and ravens scavenge along the tidal flats and the river, especially during the spring herring spawn and fall salmon runs.
Shrews, mice, voles, red squirrels, mink, and river otters also inhabit the park. Sitka blacktail deer and brown bears occupy the upper Indian River drainage and occasionally enter the park.
Did You Know?
Alaska’s Governor John Brady asked leaders from several southeast Alaska villages to donate totem poles for public exhibitions outside of Alaska, and eventually, for display at Sitka’s popular public park. More than a dozen Tlingit and Haida poles were placed along the park’s trail in 1906. More...