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Local groups bring attention to baby salmon habitat


If you live in Alaska, salmon probably plays an important role in your diet or livelihood. As residents prepare for summertime salmon runs, it's important to remember that salmon start off small and vulnerable. Several nonprofit groups around Homer are working on an initiative to bring more attention to baby salmon habitat.

We tend to think about salmon as the ones that we catch,” said Kachemak Heritage Land Trust’s executive director, Marie McCarty.

“So we think about big salmon. We don't think about baby salmon very often because they're just not part of our lives. So part of the push behind this program is to make sure people understand the whole lifecycle of salmon,” said McCarty.

Her organization, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT), has partnered with several other local non-profits in a program is called ‘Baby Salmon Live Here.’

‘Baby Salmon Live Here’ began as a simple statewide outreach program developed by the Anchorage-based, Greatland Land Trust in 2013. KHLT has modified the program to serve the Kenai Peninsula. Along withKachemak Bay Conservation Society, Kenai Watershed Forum and Cook Inletkeeper, the KHLT has been involved in a push during the month of May to highlight the importance of healthy salmon habitat for baby salmon.

Their plan is to install signs in high traffic areas that are integral to the salmon’s life cycle. KHLT even created their own logo.

“And so we adopted the program four or five years ago and redesigned the signs to make the salmon have little happy smiling faces,” said McCarty.

The campaign is part of a larger dialogue to address human’s effects on the environment and to engage a variety of people in the conversation, said Kachemak Heritage Land Trust’s Communications and Development Director, Carson Chambers.

“It's nice to have a little science, and educational portion to it,” she said. “Sometimes it's working with volunteers, or working with schools, young kids, or… It would be great to go out with some commercial fishermen and put up some signs.”

This year KHLT, along with their partners, have already installed signs in Homer, Seldovia, and Seward. They are also involved in outreach programs working with the Ninilchik Village Tribe. KHLT hopes to install between 10 and 40 signs this summer throughout the Kenai Peninsula.

Kachemak Heritage Land Trust has a sign installation event planned for this Saturday, May 28. The event will begin at the Homer Harbor Harbormaster's office at 10:30 A.M., and run until 12:30 P.M. There will be a presentation by Maddie Lee on her research through UAF on heat stress on salmon.There will be refreshments from local businesses. Marie McCarty said she was looking forward to Saturday's event.

“One of the things that I really like about this is it's a celebration of baby salmon,” she said. “We don't take the time in our lives to just stop and think about the little details on our land and our landscape. And so this is a way to bring the community together and just talk about baby fish.”

Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Desiree has called Alaska ‘home’ for almost two decades. Her involvement in radio began over 10 years, first as a volunteer DJ at KBBI, later as a host and producer, and now in her current role as a reporter. Her passions include stories relating to agriculture, food systems and rural issues. In her spare time, she can often be found riding her bicycle, creating art from handmade paper, or working in the garden.