Throughout June, July & August our Wildlife Resource Manager and Fish Ladder staff were responsible for conducting creek walks and fish ladder maintenance at Wolf Creek. Given it’s history as a natal stream for Chinook salmon, it is important to ensure fish passage from the confluence of the Yukon River up and through Wolf Creek is unobstructed. During creek walks, staff would look for and flag beaver dams to ensure creek flow was strong enough to allow potential migratory salmon to continue up the creek. Although beaver dams may be a headache to property owners as they flood large areas, not all dams are negative to fish movement. Small dams actually provide small scale habitats with slower moving water and an array of aquatic invertebrates and vegetation that salmon and other fresh water fish enjoy. For the purpose of our creek walks, we made sure that any dam found was still passable. Staff located one dam on the lower reaches of the creek but the main stem of the creek was still fast moving around the dam, allowing any migrating salmon to continue on their journey.
Adjacent to the Alaska highway along the mid reaches of the creek lies a large culvert. The force of the creek flowing out of the culvert creates a moderate sized waterfall and plunge pool that is a hindrance to migratory salmon. Much in the way that the Whitehorse Dam at Schwatka lake requires a fish a ladder to allow salmon to pass through, a small scale ladder has been implemented at Wolf Creek in years passed. In order for the ladder to work efficiently, adequate flow is needed to keep the gates open for passing fish. This summer, our crew was tasked with cleaning out the culvert of built up silt and removing woody debris that would impact flow rate. After this summer we will continue with our seasonal creek walks and fish ladder clearing at Wolf Creek in an effort to support any returning Chinook salmon who enter this historic natal stream during their annual run throughout July and August.