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Happy New Year!! Upcoming Events, Susitna Watana, D1 Lands, Rec Rivers


We are just over a week into 2024, and wow! January is shaping up to be a busy month in the watershed. Before we think too much about the future, we would like to reflect on the work that we accomplished in 2023 with the help of our community. From local educational events to hours in public meetings, here's a bit of what your local watershed nonprofit has been up to. 


  • Shared Research, Talking Points, and Step by Step Directions for Public Engagement in local issues

  • Monthly Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Advisory Board meetings 

  • Engaged in the ongoing West Susitna Industrial Corridor movement including facilitating public comments on the DOT draft STIP plan and other actions

  • Attended Borough Assembly meetings and AEA/AIDEA board meetings 

  • Sportsman Shows in Kenai, the Mat-Su, and Fairbanks

  • Took an active part in the public process surrounding the Borough Riparian Setback Ordinance

  • Hosted the largest ever Wild Su Feast

  • Engaged energy related issues in the watershed

  • Shared our work on KTNA and Big Cabbage Radio

  • Hosted monthly winter speaker events

  • Presented at the Mat Su Salmon Symposium and Cook Inlet Water Quality Summit

  • Attended numerous community events

  • Co-hosted a riparian planting day on Montana Creek

  • Served on the Steering committee of the Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership

  • Fielded questions from community members on water rights, salmon habitat, and borough and state issue


Want to get involved? 



There are all kinds of ways that you can help the SRC's mission. Check out our fun checklist on how to engage in the watershed in 2024. There are so many ways to get involved. 


We look forward to seeing you in 2024!

 

Susitna-Watana Hydro Project Update





The Susitna-Watana Hydro Project truly is a zombie project. Part of this is due to an Alaska Statue Sec. 44.83.085. . This is the Susitna River power project annual report statute which states: 


The authority (AEA) shall prepare, not later than the first day of each regular session of the legislature, an annual report summarizing the status of the Susitna River power project and shall notify the legislature that the report is available.


This means that the conversation around the dam persists, and the push to build this bad idea project resurfaces every year. In the 2024 Legislative session we expect to hear more conversation around the dam due to a vast amount of infrastructure funds entering the state for large scale projects. 


However, as each year passes, it becomes more and more clear that the Dam is still a bad idea. Not only are the studies outdated, but we have also learned that dams are not carbon neutral and the cost of the project outweighs any of the purported returns. Now, more than ever, massive hydro projects are a bad idea. Learn more on our website.


 

Upcoming Events

 

Impacts of Northern Pike in the Susitna Watershed

with Parker Bradley


Join the Susitna River Coalition on January 23rd at 6PM on Zoom and Facebook Live as we welcome Parker Bradley from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to learn about how Northern Pike impacts our region. 


Northern pike, a species not native to SouthCentral Alaska, was initially introduced to this region in the 1950’s. As one of the most popular sport fish in the U.S., this top-level predator is commonly and illegally moved around by people, often with dire consequences. In Southcentral, northern pike are now known to occupy over 150 waterbodies, and they are continuing to spread. Many of the waters northern pike have spread to are remote and difficult to access, making management actions difficult, expensive, or even impossible. As a result, many people don’t realize the actual impacts northern pike have had on native resident and anadromous species. The degree of these impacts depends greatly on the habitat conditions of the waterbody and duration of infestation, ranging from minor to catastrophic. A catastrophically impacted waterbody means it historically supported anadromous fish, but the fish community is now northern pike dominated, and salmon production no longer exists. The amount of this destroyed habitat is beginning to be quantified, and unfortunately, this is painting a picture of a dire and continuously growing loss of anadromy from northern pike predation. In addition, the amount of moderately/severely impacted waters is significant and growing too. In some locations, these impacts have been reversed by eradication efforts, but that’s not an option everywhere. While the situation is already precarious, there is still potential for it to get much worse, emphasizing the need for critical research focused on pathways and prevention. 


Parker Bradley is an invasive species biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based in Palmer where he mostly focuses on invasive northern pike. He has been in this position since 2018, and prior to that was a Habitat Biologist in Fairbanks with ADF&G. He earned his master’s degree in Fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and received his bachelor’s from the University of Kentucky and University of Montana.


Register in advance for this webinar here and learn more on the Facebook Event Page.

 

Visit the Susitna River Coalition at the Willow State Winter Carnival

February 3rd, 2024 from 9AM-5PM


Come learn about what SRC is working on at the Willow State Winter Carnival hosted by WACO (Willow Area Community Organization) on Saturday February 3rd, 2024 from 9am-5pm at the Willow Community Center located at 69 Parks Hwy, Willow, AK 99688. 


We will have a table set up inside the Community Center Lobby. WACO has been hosting this annual quintessential Alaskan winter event for over 60 years - There's a fireworks show, Iditarod qualifying sled dog races, homesteading competitions, $1000 bingo cash pots, talent contests, foot and ski races, entertainment, kids games, a cribbage tournament, and food.


Learn more on our Facebook Event Page.

 

Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Plan Revision Comment Deadline: March 5, 2024


The Susitna Basin Recreation Rivers Management Plan has been undergoing a review and revision over the past few years. 


During the first week of 2024, the Department of Natural resources released the draft plan. The draft plan is available on the project webpage. 


Keep your eyes peeled in your inbox for Susitna River Coalition talking points and tips for testimony in the future. The comment period closes March 5, 2024.


Why Our Community Cares:


This robust and ambitious plan manages six high use waterways within our watershed. If the plan is to be revised, protections should be maintained and thoughtfully modified for the current era.


DNR Hosted Public Meetings

To facilitate public review, public meetings have been scheduled in the communities indicated below and virtually during this comment period. Members of the community are encouraged to attend.


Talkeetna: 


Talkeetna Public Library

24645 Talkeetna Spur Road

Talkeetna, AK 99676


Anchorage:


Robert Atwood Conference Room (104)

Robert B. Atwood Building

550 West 7th Avenue

Anchorage, AK 99501


Virtual:


Virtual Meeting via

Microsoft Teams

(see project webpage at link above for info on how to join)


Wasilla:


Wasilla Library Large Multi-Purpose Room

500 North Crusey Street

Wasilla, AK 99654

 

D1 Lands Protections


D1 Protections were put in place under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). These protections apply to 28 million acres and prohibit mineral entry and oil and gas development on designated BLM lands.


In December, BLM released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as to how repealing some or all of these protections would affect currently designated D1 Lands. The EIS comment period is open until February 14th, 2024. See thBLM Website for instructions on how to participate and comment electronically or by mail. See this Tips for Testimony Sheet for ideas on testifying. 


There will be a series of public meetings providing opportunities for public testimony. The BLM lists the available meeting times and places on their website.


Why our Community Cares:


With many acres of D1 designated lands existing within our watershed-- including land near the proposed Susitna-Watana Dam Site and West Susitna Industrial Corridor-- the SRC is concerned about the repercussions of lifting protections on intact fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing access. 


 

Coal Mining in the Susitna?



Is coal back on the table? More big infrastructure ideas in the Mat-Su. The Biden administration has granted $9 million to researchers in Alaska for a project studying carbon capture and storage (CCS). The University of Alaska Fairbanks will lead the research to assess the viability of a carbon storage complex near Beluga, which will require a 60-mile pipeline to transport the carbon emissions for reinjection (or potential injection into aquifers closer to the site). In addition to federal funding, the state Legislature would need to approve $2.2 million in the state budget request to match the federal grant.


Why Our Community Cares:


While we are just starting to learn more about this project, we are concerned that CCS is an expensive distraction from transitioning to proven renewable energy sources. This project aligns with mega industrial development ideas in the Mat-Su in recent years, changing an important subsistence and personal use area to an industrial thoroughfare with multiple megaprojects being proposed, including the West Susitna Industrial Corridor, the Donlin Pipeline, significant oil and gas developments, and now an additional mega coal complex and pipeline. 

 

It’s that time again! When filing for your PFD, please select the Susitna River Coalition as your preferred nonprofit with Pick.Click.Give.


Though you know us as the #nosudam organization, we are so much more than that. 


We work for the river, the watershed, and the people that live here. As a small, grassroots nonprofit (the only locally-based, environmental, grassroots nonprofit in the region), we rely on community support to keep our work going. 


Whether you have enjoyed our educational events, joined us in the fight against the West Susitna Industrial Access Road, or appreciated us keeping you up to date on all river-relevant information in the watershed, we are grateful to have you as part of our Susitna community. 


Let’s keep our work going strong into 2024... and beyond.

 

Fred Meyer's Community Rewards

You can support the Susitna every time you buy groceries at Fred Meyers by selecting the SRC as your chosen nonprofit with Fred Meyer's Community Rewards. 


It's easy! To begin, create a digital Fred Meyer account on FredMeyer.com. Then, sign into your digital account, search for and select "The Susitna River Coalition," and begin supporting the watershed every time you shop!

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