NSRAA has operated in Haines since 1984 using a variety of enhancement techniques including sockeye lake stocking, chum & sockeye streamside incubation, and spawning channel construction. The current Haines programs consist of four chum salmon spawning channels and three chum salmon stream side incubation sites. NSRAA has an office in Haines that is occupied seasonally.
Fall Chum Salmon Enhancement
The Chilkat and Klehini Rivers are major fall-run chum salmon wildstock systems famous for the late run component that spawns in November and early December, attracting thousands of bald eagles to the area. All NSRAA’s Haines chum programs are wildstock enhancement oriented.
Klehini River Chum Programs
NSRAA’s Klehini River projects include two 1,500’ spawning channels at Herman Creek, is a tributary of the Klehini; a spawning channel near the 26-mile on the Haines Highway; and incubation boxes at Herman Creek and 31-mile along the Haines Highway adjacent to the Klehini River.
The spawning channels were constructed as recently as 3 years ago to over twenty years ago; they provide new spawning area with natural upwelling and access to the mainstem river. The channels’ success in attracting adult spawners varies widely depending on volume of upwelling water. The original Herman Creek Channel built in 1988 has attracted as many as seven thousand adults, whereas the channel at 26-mile garners only several hundred. All spawning channels perform a secondary enhancement function as coho fry rearing habitat. Due to near constant 40 C water and boulder size rocks lining the channel they create an ideal rearing environment with lots of cover.
Streamside incubators at Herman Creek and 31-mile are permitted for 1.6 million and 0.8 million respectively; broodstock for the boxes is captured on the Klehini or in Herman Creek.
Chilkat River Chum Programs
NSRAA’s first spawning channel was constructed at 24-mile along the Haines Highway in 1984. The channel is 1,500’ long and drains into the Chilkat River. Initially this was successful but flooding from the Chilkat River has silted-in the lower two-thirds of the channel and therefore it is poorly colonized each fall. Streamside incubation boxes are located on the lower Chilkat River at 17-mile and are permitted for 2.4 million eggs. A portion of the eggs are otolith marked each winter in order to evaluate the program.
NSRAA began evaluating project opportunities in the early 1980’s with an eye toward fall chum and sockeye at Chilkat and Chilkoot Lakes. The 24-mile channel and 31-mile incubation boxes were the first projects and remain an integral part of the program. In addition, NSRAA conducted lake limnology studies at Chilkat and Chilkoot lakes to determine if lake stocking or fertilization could boost productivity. Chilkat Lake was thought to be fry limited after several years of study and subsequently fry were stocked for four years during the early 1990’s. Unfortunately there was only modest benefit and the program was discontinued. Several years of Chinook enhancement was done at Big Boulder Creek also in the 1990’s. Larger scale hatchery programs were investigated for chum and sockeye during the 80’s and 90’s but conflicts with wildstocks prevented development.