Crescent River, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Crescent River, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

by | Mar 18, 2020

Crescent River is formed by the junction of the North Fork and Lake Fork tributaries, and flows southeast for 12 miles (19 km) to the mouth of Tuxedni Bay on the western shore of Cook Inlet, about 55 miles (89 km) northwest of Homer and 51 miles (82 km) southwest of Kenai, Alaska. The local name was first reported in 1958 by the U.S. Geological Survey and is taken from Crescent Lake. Crescent Lake is about 6 miles (10 km) long, along the course of the Lake Fork tributary of the Crescent River, in the Chigmit Mountains.

The entire Crescent River watershed lies within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Public lands include Crescent Lake, the headwaters above the lake, and the upper portion of the North Fork. The Crescent River system contains all five species of Pacific salmon, with sockeye salmon being the most important to the Cook Inlet commercial salmon industry. Sport fishermen also target the fish, and local rural residents use the rivers as a traditional subsistence fishery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has maintained a sonar fish counter on the river since 1979 and sockeye counts have ranged from about 20,000 to about 130,000 fish per year. Most of the salmon travel up the Lake Fork into Crescent Lake and spawn along its shores and tributaries.

Cook Inlet Region Incorporated and three Alaska Native village corporations own large tracts of inholdings in the watershed along the North Fork and between Crescent Lake and Cook Inlet. Timber rights to approximately 42,000 acres (16,997 ha) of the lower Crescent River watershed were sold to a logging company in 1997. From 1998-1999, the timber company built a primary access road, airstrip, and log transfer facility, including a causeway extending 550 feet (168 m) into Tuxedni Bay. Secondary roads were built to harvest timber on the west side of the river and between 2000-2001 about 700 acres (283 ha) were logged. The enabling legislation for Lake Clark National Park included the responsibility to maintain the sockeye salmon habitat and protect the pristine quality of lakes and rivers within the park. If logging resumed at the planned scale, the harvest operations could pose an imminent threat to the water quality and fish habitat of the Crescent River watershed. Read more here and here. Explore more of Crescent River here:

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