The watersheds of the Kachemak Bay region reflect the area’s dynamic geology and climate. On the north side of the Bay, where the majority of people live, there are broad rolling lowlands with a gentle topography, expansive wetlands, and meandering streams and rivers. In contrast, the watersheds of the south side of Kachemak Bay are dominated by high mountains with ice fields, glaciers, thin soils and few wetlands. Among other services, the watersheds of the area provide nurseries for juvenile salmon, and the quality of these habitats is critical to the survival and resilience of salmon.
Typical watershed study sites on the Kenai Lowlands with relative position to the rest of the state.
Salmon are a keystone species in south-central Alaskan ecosystems, and are immensely important, in terms of economic and nutritional health, to communities of people living here. KBNERR watershed research projects focus on understanding how landscape elements, such as groundwater flows, wetlands, and alder patches, affect salmon stream functions. Arctic and sub-arctic ecosystems are feeling the effects of global climate change, and Alaska is no different. Our work emphasizes products that can help prepare for climate change and respond to changes in our watersheds.