Preserving Ugashik Narrows Update

[Editor’s note: In 2010, Orvis helped support The Conservation Fund in a project to preserve vital habitat in southwestern Alaska. Here’s an update on the project from Glenn Elison, Alaska state director for the organization.] 

The purpose of The Conservation Fund’s Ugashik Narrows Project is to permanently protect scenic, the fish-rich Ugashik Lake and Narrows within the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge by acquiring a 31-acre strategic private tract at Ugashik Narrows. Ugashik Narrows connects two large lakes—Upper and Lower Ugashik.  It is a world renowned fishery and a favorite of fly anglers. The Ugashik Lake system is by far the largest salmon producer in the Ugashik fishing district, producing an annual average run of 4.3 million sockeyes with a commercial catch of 2.9 million. Sockeye escapement (the number of young fish that return to the sea) into the Ugashik Drainage averages 1.3 million.  Based on aerial surveys, annual escapement is 4,700 for chinooks; 32,000 for chums; up to 6,000 for pinks; and up to 28,000 cohos. The narrows also offers great angling for rainbow trout, grayling, and Arctic char.

Ugashi Narrows 1

Ugashik Narrows connects Upper and Lower Ugashik Lakes and offers 
spectacular fly-fishing opportunities, as well as important fishing habitat for brown 
bears and other animals.

 image courtesy Google Maps

The Conservation Fund and the property owner have reached an agreement on the sale of the 31-acre property. The property is a “Native allotment” claimed by the original owner under the 1906 Native Allotment Act. Consequently, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has some fiduciary responsibilities that we need to work through. We are working through the typically slow process of dealing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has oversight responsibility for Native allotment sales. We expect to close on the property in May 2011 and added to the 3.5 million acre Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge as a donation. Funds have been raised from Orvis, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and various private individuals.  

Ugashik Location

Located on the Alaska Peninsula in southwestern Alaska, the land purchased at Ugashik Narrows will be added to the 3.5 million acre Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge.

 image courtesy Google Earth

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