Recreational River Designations in the Susitna Basin: An Important Tool for Stewardship

The Little Susitna, the Deshka, the Talkeetna River, Lake Creek and Alexander Creek: the Susitna Basin's six Recreational Rivers have long been recognized for their unique natural features, drawing locals and visitors alike. As far back as 1985, there were high levels of recreation on each waterbody, which lead to conflicting uses and problems such as litter,  sanitation, crowding, long-term camps at popular sites and abandoned property such as cars and boats on state land. In 1988, the Alaska State Legislature signed into law the Recreational Rivers Act, establishing mile-wide river corridors to be kept in public ownership and management.


In 1991, the Susitna Basin Recreational Rivers plan was developed to manage the high use on these waters while preserving their important characteristics and varied recreational opportunities. The plan was a collaboration between agencies, organizations, the legislature and the public, involving a robust engagement process with thousands of individuals providing commentary and contributions to the plan. The authority of this plan only applies to state lands and waters, and does not apply to private, university, borough or federal lands.


The Recreational Rivers designation allows for better stewardship of riparian areas, including maximizing the amount of natural shoreline vegetation, preserving habitat, minimizing the degradation of upland habitat adjacent to river and lakes, and preserving water quality and quantity. These measures are all vital in preserving healthy habitats for salmon, other fish and wildlife. In addition, the plan manages public access, recreation and commercial use, and works to minimize conflicts between user groups (motorized and non-motorized boaters being one example).


The Recreational Rivers Designations in the Susitna basin is an important tool for the ongoing stewardship of the watershed, allowing for targeted management in high-use waterways. For more information, consult the Management Plan HERE.

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