The Chena River supports the second-largest run of chinook in the Yukon River watershed and one of the top threats to salmon is the destruction of critical spawning areas. The Doyon Sustainability Committee partnered with the Fairbanks Water and Soil Conservation District to restore the riparian zone in front of the Doyon Plaza in downtown Fairbanks. The restoration will help improve habitats for salmon spawning, native fish species, birds, and mammals, reduce erosion, improve water quality, bank stabilization, and provide better flood reduction in this area.
A riparian zone is the area next to and alongside rivers, streams, and creeks and includes soil, plants, and people. Riparian zones act as buffers between upland areas and waterways. They filter pollutants such as fertilizers, nutrients, and sediment. Additionally, they reduce erosion and stabilize stream channels. These areas are important because streambank vegetation provides food, habitats, and shade for salmon and other native species.
Damage and disturbances occur naturally, but the largest threat to riparian zones is development surrounding the area. Humans alter riparian zones for recreational use, construction, or aesthetic purposes. The cost of these alters can include water quality suffering, habitat is reduced, and erosion or property loss can be expensive.
In summer 2021, the Fairbanks Water and Soil Conversation District worked to expand and improve the existing riparian zone in front of the Plaza building. Willow stakings and live planting of willow, silverberry, and red osier dogwood were conducted with the help of youth in the community. In the coming seasons, more plants will continue to be planted to grow the area.
Source: Katie McClellan, Youth for Habitat Program Manager, PowerPoint Presentation