The Kasilof River can be seen in June 2019. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources will acquire 309 acres of habitat along the river with funding from a federal conservation grant. (Clarion file)

The Kasilof River can be seen in June 2019. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources will acquire 309 acres of habitat along the river with funding from a federal conservation grant. (Clarion file)

State to acquire Kasilof wetlands for preservation project

The project in Kasilof will protect 283 acres of coastal wetland habitat in the Kasilof River Flats.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources will acquire 309 acres of habitat along the Kasilof River following its receipt of a federal grant for the project.

In all, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved $338,600 for the project through its National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant program. That program aims to “protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems and associated uplands” in coastal and Great Lakes states and in U.S. territories.

The program, which annually provides grants of up to $1 million, also awarded grants to projects in 13 other U.S. states. The Kasilof River land acquisition was the only project recipient in Alaska in 2021.

According to the list of recipient project summaries, the project in Kasilof will protect 283 acres of coastal wetland habitat in the Kasilof River Flats, including 2.25 miles of river shoreline. More than 85% of the project area is composed of “nationally declining” coastal wetland types.

Wildlife that stand to benefit from the project include rock sandpipers, chinook, sockeye, coho and pink salmon and Cook Inlet beluga whales, which are federally endangered. The project is also expected to provide migratory, nesting and overwintering habitat for 165 bird species, 37 of which are identified in the Alaska Wildlife Action Plan as “Species of Greatest Need.”

Once acquired, the property will be added to an existing state park unity for wildlife habitat and “compatible” public recreation.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $492,511, including the $388,600 awarded by the grant and a local match of $153,911.

More information on the grant program can be found at fws.gov/coastal/CoastalGrants.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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