• Winter in the Wrangells

    Wrangell - St Elias

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Tanada Creek Fish Weir

Cleaning the Tanada Creek Fish Weir
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve operates a fish weir on Tanada Creek to monitor adult salmon migration. Tanada Creek is a third-order perennial stream and a tributary to the Upper Copper River in southeast interior Alaska. Tanada Creek sockeye are one of the uppermost runs of sockeye on the Copper River and support a subsistence salmon fishery both in the Copper River and in the creek. As such, the Tanada Creek stocks can provide an index of the overall sockeye salmon escapement of the Copper River. The monitoring and evaluation of these runs is essential to ensure that Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve maintains natural and healthy populations as required by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Data collected at the weir are used for in-season management of the Copper River fishery.

This creek is also significant due to its association with the Batzulnetas subsistence fishery. Batzulnetas is the Ahtna name for the traditional fishing site on Tanada Creek that has been used by the Ahtna people for more than 1000 years. Descendants of earlier inhabitants, who now live in two native villages in the area, still utilize its resources for cultural education purposes including subsistence fishing. The Batzulnetas fishery was the subject of lawsuits from 1985 to 2000 as Ahtna elders Katie John and Doris Charles, and others attempted to reestablish their traditional subsistence fishery. The “Katie John Decision” resulted in the expansion of Federal management of fisheries in waters under Federal jurisdiction throughout Alaska.

The weir site is about 16 km southeast of the town of Slana and 160 meters downstream from the Batzulnetas fish camp. A weir is a barrier set across a stream that blocks the passage of fish but allows water to pass. The weir panels are made of evenly spaced tubular pickets extending across the entire channel. A chute or live trap is placed at an opening in this barrier and forms a narrow passage through which the fish can migrate upstream. An observer stationed on the live box can identify and count the passing fish. Water temperature and depth are also recorded daily. The floating design of the current weir performs well in the dynamic Tanada Creek system. It requires minimal maintenance once installed, and during flood events debris can pass over the flexible weir.

 

1997-2012 Counts

Year

Salmon

2012

20,022
2011

8,969
2010

5,226
2009

38,208
2008

2,850
2007

11,103
2006

4,514

2005

4,659

2004

17,120

2003

5,856

2002

2,489

2001

1,649

2000

flooded

1999

n/a

1998

28,992

1997

27,521



Long Lake Fish Weir
32 Years of Salmon Counts!

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