Aerial view of Killey River confluence in Alaska
Killey River in Alaska TNC's gift of Killey River lands protects fish habitat. © Redoubt Reporter

Newsroom | The Nature Conservancy

Kenai River Salmon Get a Habitat Boost

TNC gives gift of nursery habitat for early-run Chinook.

Kenai, AK

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and The Nature Conservancy in Alaska are pleased to announce the long-term conservation of a Kenai salmon stream.

Thanks to The Nature Conservancy’s gift of 293 acres to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, natural habitat that serves as a nursery for salmon will continue to flourish around the Killey River—known as the source for more than half of the Kenai River’s early run king salmon. The Kenai River is world-famous for its king salmon but recent declines are causing widespread concern.

“For several years, The Nature Conservancy worked with willing sellers to make conservation purchases of these lands—all in the name of conserving particularly valuable lands and waters for salmon and bears. We’re proud to donate these lands to the people of the United States, the people of Alaska, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for long-term management to benefit Alaska and its outdoor traditions,” said Steve Cohn, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Alaska.

Comprised largely of spruce and birch forest, the undeveloped Killey River lands serve as one of the Kenai Peninsula’s most important wildlife corridors for brown bears and other wildlife. The Killey River is also a nursery for Kenai salmon. Early-run Chinook salmon swim to the Killey River to spawn in June and July. Coho and pink salmon also spawn in the Killey River and its tributaries. This parcel falls within the area burned in the 2014 “Funny River Fire.” Much of the area’s blackened spruce forests still stand even as a new generation of shrubs and trees continue to grow anew.    

“TNC has long been a trusted and invaluable partner to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This land donation for inclusion into the refuge will help conserve the Killey River’s critically important spawning and rearing habitat for Kenai River early-run Chinook salmon and other valued fishery resources. It will also help protect an important riparian corridor which enables wildlife to move between the Kenai and Killey rivers,” says Andy Loranger, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge manager. 

About the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

The 1.92 million-acre Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is one of 16 refuges in Alaska but it is the only national wildlife refuge in Southcentral Alaska. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the refuge as the Kenai National Moose Range by executive order in 1941. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination for fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, canoeing and river rafting, and wildlife viewing.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the fish and wildlife resources of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.