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Contact: Jami Belt, 907-983-9228Skagway — The National Park Service (NPS) and the Municipality of Skagway are studying air and water quality. Studies begin in April 2018 and continue throughout spring of 2019.
The air quality studies measure atmospheric contaminants in and around the park. Park staff measure contaminants using filters and funnels attached to small posts. Rain enters the funnels then filters through tubes called ion exchange resin collectors. These collectors detect pollutants, such as nitrates and sulfates, from the air and rain. Filters will be in place for 12 months. Staff will modify the collectors for snow in the fall. This testing will happen near Lower Dewey Lake and on the Chilkoot Trail. This work repeats an identical study conducted a decade ago. Comparing 2018 and 2007 data will reveal how pollutant levels change over time.
Later this summer, scientists from the NPS Southeast Alaska Network will analyze contaminants in lichen. To look at air quality, they’ll collect lichen from six sites. Lichen collect pollutants that are in the atmosphere, making them an excellent biological indicator of recent air quality.
To monitor mercury in the Taiya River, staff will collect Dolly Varden, a trout-like fish. Dolly Varden accumulate mercury from the freshwater environment because they’re high on the food chain. This makes them an ideal species to study for water pollutants.
The NPS and Municipality of Skagway are also partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to sample hydrocarbons in seawater adjacent to park boundaries.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is committed to understanding and sharing the park’s history and natural environment. For more information about this work visit the Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network.
At the end of the study, results will be available online from the NPS Data Store.
Download results from the study conducted ten years ago.