Pullen Creek Streamwalk: Protecting Salmon Habitat in Skagway

Pullen Creek and proposed project site.
Pullen Creek and proposed project site.

Known to many as the Gateway to the Klondike Goldrush, Skagway is home to roughly 900 residents and a popular travel destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Most visitors arrive on large cruise ships and funnel through town to experience the historical significance and natural beauty of Skagway.

The Pullen Creek Corridor has long been an area of interest to visitors and residents of Skagway. The creek’s proximity to the cruise ship docks and downtown area as well as its’ annual runs of king, pink, and coho salmon make the creek an attractive and accessible nature retreat.

Unfortunately, lacking a formal trail system or viewing area, the creek’s riparian area has become degraded by visitors walking along the creek’s edges to experience the salmon up close; causing streambank erosion and trampled riparian vegetation that impacts habitat crucial to salmon reproduction.

Pullen Creek 2

 Taiya Inlet Watershed Council (TIWC), a Skagway community partnership that works to protect and improve the health of the local watershed through education, communication, research and restoration, recognized the damage occurring along Pullen Creek and put a project in motion to establish a formal footpath and begin restoring the creek habitat.

The goal of the Pullen Creek Streamwalk project is to build a trail with interpretive signs and stream overlooks that allows visitors and Skagway residents to experience and learn about the natural and cultural history of Pullen Creek and its surrounding landscape, while restoring and preserving the integrity of the creek’s riparian area and salmon habitat.

Pullen Creek 3

Taiya Inlet Watershed Council received a $1.8 million grant from the Federal Highways Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program and the National Park Service to carry out the Pullen Creek Streamwalk project. The collaborative project is guided by a steering committee composed of Skagway residents and business representatives

Walking the site with USFWS, TIWC, and White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad representatives
Walking the site with USFWS, TIWC, and White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad representatives

For the first phase of the project, TIWC developed plans to construct a 600-foot fence as a visual barrier between the nearby road and riparian buffer area to allow creekside vegetation to re-establish restore natural habitat. With assistance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a team of 2 TIWC staff and 9 local volunteers completed 600 feet of fence construction in one 10-hour day.

Volunteers bury fence posts.
Volunteers bury fence posts.

With funding secured, the Pullen Creek Streamwalk project is estimated to be complete in the fall of 2015. By re-routing foot traffic along the area, Taiya Inlet Watershed Council is able to encourage the streambank restoration process, allowing the establishment of plant communities that will serve to prevent bank erosion and provide critical spawning and rearing habitat for the many salmon that return to the creek year after year.

Learn more about the Pullen Creek Streamwalk project here.

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire Southeast Alaskans and support community organizations working toward the wise management of our region’s watersheds. We envision a unified Southeast Alaskan voice that promotes the long-term sustainability of our rural communities and wise management of the region’s watersheds. We provide services and develop regionally relevant projects and programs in partnership with local organizations, tribes and municipalities. We work with Southeast Alaskans to build healthy communities, economies, and watersheds.


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