A victory for Alaska's Susitna River

Alaska is shutting down the Susitna-Watana Dam project. The Susitna River is North America’s fourth largest undammed river and sustains Alaska’s fourth largest king salmon run.
 
 
 
By: Jenny Weis
 
Today, Alaska’s Governor announced the state is shutting down the Susitna-Watana Dam project. In so doing, Trout Unlimited is celebrating with thousands of Alaskans about the sound future of the free-slowing Susitna River.
 
The Susitna River, where the dam was proposed, is North America’s fourth largest undammed river and sustains Alaska’s fourth largest king salmon run. The vast valleys that feed the Susitna River comprise some of one of the state’s most visited areas. 
 
As TU has worked to removed dams that don’t make sense throughout the Pacific Northwest, the State of Alaska had been aggressively pursing a proposal that would become the 2nd tallest dam in the United States and would pose significant harmful impacts to the Susitna River’s five species of salmon, caribou migration routes, and tourism and fish-based businesses. It’s not hard to ascertain why so many joined together to oppose it.
 
 
“I am elated to stand along side our partners and friends who rely on the Susitna River today and proud to have helped work toward this victory,” said Sam Snyder, Trout Unlimited Alaska Engagement Director and coordinator of the Save the Susitna campaign. “Thousands of Alaskans have spoken up so that future generations can use and enjoy the Susitna River as we do today – the Governor made the right decision. It’s an immense victory for our salmon, our waters and tens of thousands of Alaskan families.”
 
Working hand in hand with local, Talkeetna-based partner the Susitna River Coalition, TU-Alaska has been a critical player in ensuring Alaskans stayed abreast of the changes in this effort by the state over the last five years, and were able to contact elected leaders to make their voice heard when actions were needed most.
 
 
 
Flowing through the stunning mountain valleys of Southcentral Alaska, hundreds thousands of salmon return each summer to the Susitna and its tributaries to spawn and help sustain Alaska’s strong salmon runs.  Thousands of visitors from the Lower 48 and around the world visit the Susitna River to experience its power and beauty. Thousands of commercial fishermen and sport fishing guides rely on the river to provide for their families each year. And on any given day, an angler can be seen wading in one of the Susitna’s many arms to take in a bit of its majesty. 
 
Rainbow on the Susitna. Photo courtesy of Sam Snyder
 
Today, Trout Unlimited says thank you to all who stood beside us and our partners, in this effort to save the Susitna, and celebrates with the fishermen, business owners, tourist, and river lovers who, together, look forward to enjoying this river for many years to come.
 
Learn more about the Save the Susitna effort and send a thank you note to the Governor on our Facebook page.
 
Jenny Weis is the Communications Specialist for Trout Unlimited's Alaska program. She is based in Anchorage. Susitna River photo by Travis Rummel.
 
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