Water is an essential resource – everything relies on a constant clean water supply from wildlife habitat to large scale industrial projects. Our freshwater supply, (rainfall, snowmelt, runoff and infiltration), is distributed unevenly across the landscape, throughout the seasons, and from year to year. Programs that lead to a better understanding of this resource – and ways to manage water quality and quantity –are the cornerstone of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Wetlands are areas with saturated soil which support plants that thrive in wet conditions. Wetlands are abundant on the Kenai Peninsula and an important resource. Although wetlands only cover 9% of the earth globally, the Wetland Mapping and Classification of the Kenai Lowland, Alaska found wetlands cover over 40% of the Western Kenai Peninsula. Wetlands offer many benefits to society. For example, depending on the kind of wetland and its location, they provide flood control, clean water, erosion control, habitats for plants and animals, and opportunities for recreation, education, and connection with the past. Salmon, moose, and sandhill cranes all depend on wetlands. As the links below suggest, Homer Soil and Water is a leader in supporting efforts to understand peninsula wetlands and encourage management that maintains wetland functions and values, now and for the future.
Homer Soil and Water led an EPA-funded, collaborative effort to identify and assess functions and values of Kenai Peninsula wetlands at the landscape level. During phase two of this project the District identified management strategies and practices that could be used to maintain wetland functions and values. To do this, the conditions supporting particular functions/values were identified, and then ways to maintain those conditions were outlined. A menu of more-specific management practices was also developed. These can be incorporated to minimize wetland impacts when siting, designing, and developing various land uses and activities. For more information visit the Assessment Project Page.
This two volume report provides planning information for the Beluga Planning Area within the City of Homer. This area represents “the wetlands heart of Homer.” Volume 1: Background and Planning Information introduces local watersheds, land suitabilities, green infrastructure, Low Impact Development, and how to find online geospatial information. Volume 2: Atlas provides a compilation of maps and geospatial information to help landowners and managers better understand and manage the area.
For a brief photographic introduction to most types of wetlands on the Kenai Peninsula, go to “Photographic examples of different wetland types on the Kenai Peninsula lowlands.”
For step-by-step instructions on how to use the Kenai Peninsula Borough's interactive parcel viewer to locate and identify peninsula wetlands and to learn more about them, go to “Locating and identifying Kenai Peninsula wetlands online."
Homer Soil and Water, through a cooperative agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), performs monthly snow surveys along local snow courses December through May. Snow pack is measured at several sites, and data on snow depth and snow water equivalent (SWE) are recorded to be used for forecasting spring runoff , summer stream flow and potential groundwater recharge. These sites include the Homer Demonstration Forest, Bridge Creek, and Eagle Lake. The Homer District is partnering with West Homer Elementary School as part of our Schoolyard Habitat project to establish a new site located behind the school.
In addition to local courses NRCS operates SNOTEL (snow pack telemetry) sites that use meteor burst technology to collect and communicate data. Sites in the Homer District are located at McNeil Canyon School, the Anchor River divide Port Graham, and 3 locations across the bay; Middle Fork Bradley River, Nuka Glacier, and Kachemak Creek. Data for these sites can be viewed here.
The Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN), a NRCS a program, maintains real-time soil-climate information. The local sites are part of national network that provide soil temperature and moisture at various depths at near real time. These sites are located in the Homer Demonstration Forest (Moose Inc) and Shrorr Gardens, the data can be located here.