The Tebughna (“Beach People”) have fished in the Tyonek area for hundreds of years, and preserving the salmon resource goes hand in hand with preserving the cultural identity of this people. For this reason, protecting fish habitat and improving fish passage has been a major priority for TTCD since our formation. In the past three years TTCD has worked cooperatively with the Native Village of Tyonek, the Tyonek Native Corporation, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the AK Department of Fish & Game, and many others in order to strategically work towards removing barriers to fish passage on the west side of the Cook Inlet. Since 2012, TTCD has worked with partners to remove two fish passage barriers and has future projects planned. TTCD is also developing a Watershed Plan to address other threats to salmon such as pike and invasive plants.
Future & Ongoing Projects
Tyonek Area Watershed Action Plan
This action plan, completed in 2016, is directed by community, reviewed by experts, and implemented in collaboration with the Tyonek Tribal Conservation District, landowners, and numerous partners around the common goal of protecting the natural resources within the Tyonek Area Watershed on the Westside of the Cook Inlet.
Old Tyonek Creek Fish Passage Improvement
Old Tyonek Creek provides spawning and rearing habitat for a number of anadromous fish including king salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, and hooligan which require unobstructed movement throughout the watershed to maintain healthy populations. Prior to 2015, the culverts at this location created barriers for the migration of adult and juvenile fish. In 2015, TTCD and partners completed a culvert replacement that opened up over 10 miles of important upstream salmon habitat. Opening up spawning habitat on Old Tyonek Creek will benefit several salmon populations and will provide increased subsistence opportunity for salmon in the Tyonek subsistence fishery.
TTCD Invasive Plant Survey & Control
In 2014, TTCD completed a District wide survey of invasive plants in Tyonek, Beluga, Skwentna, and Alexander Creek. TTCD staff and interns worked with local landowners to cover rivers and roads not previously surveyed. In the coming year, TTCD will continue to work with landowners to monitor and plan control methods to address these threats to salmon habitat.
Tyonek Area Watershed Action Plan
TTCD is working with landowners and partners to develop a watershed action plan for all waterways from Nikolai Creek to Beluga River. The overall goal of this plan is to provide a framework to restore, enhance, and protect the freshwater systems in this area.
TTCD is committed to a locally driven, cooperative approach to protecting salmon and their habitat. By working closely with all landowners, stakeholders, and partners to develop the Tyonek Area Watershed Plan, TTCD will work to address local concerns at the community level and deal with issues that are of concern to the entire watershed.
Tyonek Creek Culvert Replacement, 2014
In the TTCD Natural Resource Assessment and Project Implementation Plan, the culvert on upper Tyonek Creek was identified as a barrier and a priority replacement project. The culverts at this site represented a barrier silver and pink salmon and blocked several miles of pristine habitat.
In 2010, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) developed a design for this project. This design was used to replace the original undersized, perched culverts with a 17’ span, 11.2’ rise arch pipe to ensure passage. By partnering with multiple organizations, TTCD raised the needed funds to complete this project. Tyonek Contractors LLC was hired to install this fish friendly culvert, and employed several local residents.
With a much larger culvert in place, over 11 miles of habitat for spawning and rearing is now available to salmon. In time, this additional habitat will boost salmon populations for subsistence and commercial fishermen.
Indian Creek Fish Passage Improvement
In May 2012, TTCD coordinated travel for USFWS, ADF&G, and the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership to meet with Tyonek Native Corporation and Native Village of Tyonek staff in Tyonek to view potential fish passage barriers. At this meeting, a priority culvert project was identified at Indian Creek, where an undersized culvert caused frequent washouts.
USFWS and the Tyonek Native Corporation provided funding for the design and installation of an appropriately sized fish friendly culvert at this site in October 2012. Restoration of this site, including the placement of vegetative mats, coir logs and willows was completed in June 2013. Despite major flooding in the fall of 2012 and 2013, this culvert has continued to function and no road washouts at this location have occurred. Salmon have been observed upstream of the new culvert, indicating that removal of this barrier was successful.
Natural Resource Assessment & Project Implementation Plan
In 2012, TTCD received funding through the USFWS’s Alaska Coastal Program and the Tyonek Native Corporation to develop a Natural Resource Assessment and Project Implementation Plan for TTCD. This plan identified a wide range of potential habitat improvements and helped TTCD develop many partnerships. In this document, projects to address natural resource concerns, and all fish passage barriers, were outlined and prioritized. This document will guide future fish passage work in the Tyonek area.