Susitna River Alaska© Ryan Peterson

Susitna River


Susitna River

Keeping a classic Alaskan river wild

The era of big dams is over but the state of Alaska has repeatedly proposed a mega-dam on the Susitna River.

The most recent plans call for the second tallest dam in the United States.

From its glacial origins near Denali and the Alaska Range, the Susitna flows over 300 miles to Cook Inlet. It sustains five species of Pacific salmon—including Alaska’s fourth largest run of Chinook—and its watershed is home to many of the state’s iconic animals, including moose, brown and black bear and the 40,000-head Nelchina caribou herd.

The latest Susitna mega-dam project would flood 40,000 acres of prime hunting and recreation wilderness near Denali National Park above the dam, and threaten salmon rearing, migratory, and spawning habitat below the dam.

In June 2016, Gov. Bill Walker announced that he was suspending the dam project, due to state budget shortfalls.

In the quest for permanent protection for the Susitna River, Wild Salmon Center will continue to support to the Susitna River Coalition—a group of small business owners, recreational guides, retired teachers and citizens that formed in 2011.

© Coley Gentzel
$200 million: Size of the recreation economy in the Susitna region.
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