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Grant funding is instrumental for habitat work

Public funds make it possible for CIAA to tackle large invasive species eradication projects and other habitat work.

by | January 18, 2024

Emily Heale and a line of northern pike.
Five feet of invasive northern pike harvested from Chelatna Lake in 2016. Emily Heale/CIAA

While CIAA’s hatchery programs are flagship programs that provide salmon for all area user groups, CIAA’s work outside of fish rearing and egg takes also make a difference.

Enhancing salmon fisheries would not be productive if we, as good stewards of the Cook Inlet region, did not also take steps to preserve and improve habitat for salmon. These projects are often only possible with the help of grant funding.

Invasive species at the top of our list

Since 2013 this salmon habitat improvement has, in large part, come in the form of invasive species work—whether that be invasive northern pike suppression or surveys for other invasive species like elodea.

During the 2023 field season we wrapped up our final year of a three-year project funded by the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund (AKSSF). We harvested invasive northern pike in different lakes (Chelatna, Whiskey, Hewitt, and Shell) within the Cook Inlet drainage.

These lakes were chosen because of northern pike predation on salmon and CIAA’s long history of working on these lakes (sometimes in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game). In the last three years our crews have been able to remove 3,750 pike from these lakes, which is no small feat.

Obtaining grants is a crucial step in continuing habitat work for CIAA. Without being awarded grant funds we would not have as wide of an impact with the habitat projects. Each year staff spend a significant amount of time and effort writing new proposals to submit for grant funding on current projects or for new projects.

Successfully procuring grant funding is not guaranteed; the process is quite competitive. That’s why when we heard word that our most recent proposal to AKSSF for the continuation of pike suppression at Whiskey, Hewitt, and Shell lakes through 2026 was selected for funding, we did a little celebration dance!

These funds are necessary to continue making Cook Inlet a more habitable place for salmon.
For perspective on the big picture CIAA collaborates with other organizations, like ADF&G, doing pike suppression work. We are all working toward the same goal to keep the pike populations in check so salmon can once again thrive within the Cook Inlet region.

Since CIAA began pike suppression work in 2012 crews have harvested over 22,000 northern pike! Now think of the combined positive impact that the collective group of people working towards pike suppression and eradication can have on salmon habitat.

How CIAA helps salmon habitat

Invasive species work is just one of several kinds of habitat and monitoring projects managed by CIAA. Learn more about this aspect of salmon fisheries enhancement on our website.

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