Eyak Lake, named for the indigenous Eyak Natives that survived on this areas resources, provides critical spawning, rearing and wintering habitat for multiple anadromous fish populations upon which our Alaskan community depends. Situated between the Prince William Sound, the Copper River Delta, and the Gulf of Alaska, Eyak Lake provides cornerstone habitat conditions for ten fish species. These fish include marine resources such as sockeye salmon, coho salmon, sea-run cutthroat trout, and anadromous Dolly Varden. The adjacent fishing town of Cordova is home to subsistence, recreational, and commercial fishers whose livelihoods rely on the intact habitat of Eyak Lake’s freshwater ecosystem. Since salmon are the true currency of our community, their biological health directly translates into our region’s economic sustainability.

Overall ex-vessel value of commercial harvest of sockeye and coho salmon returns to Eyak Lake was estimated by Alaska Department of Fish & Game at $1,742,050 to $2,917,210, making Eyak Lake a multi-million dollar lake. [1] In addition to commercial harvest, Eyak Lake’s outlet river boasts one of the most popular sport fisheries in the Prince William Sound of Alaska. ADF&G reports an average of 10,181 coho salmon and 554 sockeye were caught each year (2014-2016)[2]. Sustaining Eyak Lake’s fisheries requires unrestricted access to spawning and rearing habitat. Eyak Lake also provides other valuable recreation opportunities like canoeing and kayaking, and is a municipal water supply to the City of Cordova.

CRWP and our partners have observed the deterioration of the current weir structure at the outlet of Eyak Lake and are interested in being proactive in addressing this aging structure before it fails. Our primary objectives are to improve fish passage up and downstream of where the weir is located, while maintaining current water levels to protect important nearshore spawning sites for salmon, in particular Sockeye, as well as maintain current property lines along the lakeshore. 

Recently we have brought on an engineer to help collect important site information and to prepare alternative structures for the community to consider for this site. Once these preliminary investigations are complete, and a preferred concept identified, we will pursue funding in hopes of making this project a reality. 

We want to hear from you! What do you know about the history of the weir, or changes to lake levels after the earthquake? Have you used the boat slot, and is this an important feature to maintain? Do you have any photos of the weir to share? Even if you don’t have information to share, but you are interested in learning more as this project progresses, submit your contact information via the survey below and we will add you to our email list for project updates.

Join us July 19, 5:30 P.M. at the Cordova Center (Council Chambers) for a community workshop. To participate remotely, see zoom link and call-in info at the bottom of this page.

We will hear from our engineers at DOWL and learn more about the alternatives we can consider, as well as share your thoughts and concerns.

Please email kate@copperriver.org with any photos you’d like to submit regarding the weir.

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 PAST RESTORATION PROJECTS

Eyak Lake Restoration Projects

Since 2003, the Copper River Watershed Project has been coordinating partnerships and volunteer efforts to restore bank vegetation, fish passage, and water quality in Eyak Lake. Funding for these restoration efforts have come from NOAA’s American Recovery and Reinvestment act, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Alaska Coastal Management Program, and U.S. Forest Service/Chugach National Forest.

  • bank re-vegetation work at avalanche zone and at Nirvana Park, 2003 and 2006;
  • studied the presence of hydro-carbon pollutants in stormwater runoff draining into Eyak Lake;
  • replaced 3 x 36″ culverts on Power Creek Road with one 58′ x 19′ x 6′ 1″ “stream simulation” culvert that facilitated stream sediment transport for replenishing spawning gravels in Eyak Lake;
  • used American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds to remove an un-permitted spit and restore water circulation; reduce turbidity and hydrocarbons in Eyak Lake with installation of an oil and grit separator to filter Lake Avenue stormwater runoff; and
  • analyzed City and Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities snow management and storage practices to reduce snow melt pollution draining into Eyak Lake.

Power Creek Road Spit Removal

POWER CREEK RD SPIT


PROBLEM

Constructed in the 1960s; the spit was built to offer wave protection to a float plane dock, however this area is no longer used for this purpose.

ACTION PLAN
Excavated fill from the spit. A silt blanket was used in the October 2009 construction. The shoreline was revegetated.

OUTCOME

Improved lake circulation adjacent to the sockeye spawning beds and rearing habitat for cutthroats, coho juveniles, and sockeye fry.

Nirvana Park Oil & Grit Separator

 Stormwater Draining into Eyak Lake

PROBLEM

Stormwater emptied directly into Eyak Lake from the stormwater lines that drain Lake Avenue and the surrounding neighborhoods.  This water brings with it high loads of sediment and hydrocarbons that can make life difficult for young salmon.

ACTION PLAN

The OGS Project during Construction

Installed a Stormceptor Oil & Grit Separator to collect and separate out sediment and hydrocarbons before they enter the Eyak lake.

Worked with the City or Cordova and AK DOT to address snow storage practices to help keep unnecessary sand, salt and chemicals from entering the lake.

OUTCOME
Improved salmon rearing sites by flushing sediment buildup, reduced turbidity and decreased hydrocarbon input into Eyak Lake.

[1] J. Botz, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, personal communication (October 20, 2020). Based on escapement peak counts and commercial harvest data, 2010-2020.

[2] Blain-Roth, B., J. Baumer, and S. Meyer. 2017. Sport fisheries in the Prince William Sound Management Area, 2014-2016. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fishery Management Report No. 17-44, Anchorage.

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