The dam removal was a four-year project. Photo courtesy of The Conservation Fund
Published September 10, 2018
Historic effort allows salmon passage for the first time in nearly 90 years
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Conservation Fund announced the completion of the four-year, $7.5 million effort to remove the Lower Eklutna River dam in Southcentral Alaska. For the first time in 89 years, the five species of Pacific salmon that live in the Eklutna River, located 20 miles north of Anchorage, can now move upstream to additional spawning habitat.
The Conservation Fund partnered with the Native Village of Eklutna and the Eklutna Native Corporation on the work to remove the dam. “This has been an exciting and rewarding project for the Eklutna Dena’ina people who still live and fish along the river,” said Curtis McQueen, CEO of Eklutna Incorporated. “Eklutna River salmon are an important part of our culture and we are hopeful that this is the first big step toward the recovery of the salmon runs that our people once relied on for subsistence.”
According to Brad Meiklejohn, project director for The Conservation Fund: “This was the fastest and most efficient major dam removal effort ever completed in the country. We had tremendous support from the public, from all levels of government and from a wide array of funders.”
Project support was provided by the Rasmuson Foundation, the Open Rivers Fund of Resources Legacy Fund, the M.J. Murdock Trust, the Marnell Company, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through its Alaska Fish and Wildlife Fund and ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program, the Alaska Community Foundation, Patagonia, Trout Unlimited, New Belgium Brewing, and Wells Fargo.
Removing the Lower Eklutna River dam is the first step in the recovery of the Eklutna River.
“We waited a long time for this moment. The Eklutna people are still here and we are anxiously awaiting for the salmon to return,” said McQueen.
A public celebration will be held on September 22nd at Eklutna Lake. For more details visit: www.conservationfund.org/projects/native-village-of-eklutna