With an unusually hot and dry summer in the Seldovia area this year, the streams are drying up and heating up. Seldovia Village Tribe staff put our weir in on July 23rd on Jakolof Creek and the stream had already been dry for maybe a week or more. The early run of red salmon may have made it to the lake but that is probably the only run that has. Jakolof Creek is dry almost all the way up to the switchbacks and continues to recede. Kingfisher Creek is dry almost up to the lake I am guessing at this point. We haven't checked on that one in a while. Small pools of water continue to dry up, and with them the coho smolt are also dying in those pools. In the lower section of Jakolof Creek at the mouth of the bay, there are still some pools of water that have some pinks, dogs, and Dolly Varden in them, but they are slowly drying up as well. There are not thousands of fish like there were in a past dry spell, luckily. Some small bears, eagles, and other birds are using some of the fish but there are still many that are not getting used. We will certainly see the damage done in the upcoming years. This run of fish has been used for a resource for those who live in the area for many years. Some people who don't have access to boats to get to other fishing sites are more heavily reliant on this run than others. This coho run is very important to those in the area ever since the Seldovia River coho run stopped being planted by ADF&G. It is road accessible and those who don't have a boat or have mobility issues can get to it rather easily. We have seen little to no significant rain this summer and there was no snow down low that would sustain the ground water for the season. Kingfisher lake hit 74º in July this year. This temp may go up since we have not had any rain or cooler weather in August now.
Comments from LEO Editors:
This observation has been shared with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) office in Homer, as well as ADF&G Division of Subsistence staff based in Anchorage. LEO also invites other observers from communities near Seldovia to comment about river and creek conditions in their area.
On August 27, 2015, LEO received a similar observation of dry creeks and a mass die-off of all of the fish in the system. The streams in this area are largely fed by snow melt, and after winter with little snow and an extremely hot summer, there is nothing left to feed many streams in the Kachemak Bay area. Such was the situation both in 2015 and in 2019. So another year with a lost generation of salmon and other fish. The one difference this year is that the returns (at least so far) of pinks are smaller, and the creek appears to have dried up two weeks earlier. This raises concerns not only about the future of this stream as a salmon spawning location, but also about food security for the area, and water security as snow melt and rainfall are also the major sources for community water supply. Some communities in Southeast (e.g., Haines) are currently on water rationing. Mike Brubaker