JUNEAU (AP) -- Salmon migrating to downtown Juneau will get a break with new spawning habitat being added to Gold Creek.
Boulders and gravel have been added between a section reinforced by concrete and where the creek flows into Gastineau Channel.
''A long time ago we did a project to protect the area from flooding at the request of the local government,'' said John Killoran, public affairs officer with the Alaska District of the Army Corps of Engineers. ''We hardened the channel. This had its own effect of washing out the spawning grounds used by salmon. ... Putting boulders and gravel back into the stream will, hopefully, restore the fishery.''
The material was added to the creek mouth last week by workers from Western Marine Construction.
Corps of Engineers biologist Chris Hoffman said the boulders placed downstream near the Egan Drive bridge will slow the river's flow and keep gravel in the intertidal spawning area.
''Now they will spawn and deposit eggs during the higher flow. This will give them gravel to actually spawn in,'' he said. ''This won't change (the lack of) access upstream, but will provide habitat in the lower area.''
The municipality contributed $33,000 for the construction work and expects to spend another $60,000 to revegetate the banks of Gold Creek, said Port Director Joe Graham.
''We'll do that this spring and summer,'' he said. ''We plan on putting in new vegetation, benches, perhaps some informational placards. We think it can be a great opportunity for a mini-park.''
Pink salmon return to Gold Creek now but usually are not successful in spawning. Many that return try to swim up the concrete-lined creek, making for an ''awe-inspiring sight,'' Graham said.
With the changes, other types of salmon could be reintroduced to the creek, he said.
''By and large, most people will be pleased with the end result, especially cleaning up the bank,'' Graham said. ''There's debris and rebar. It's going to look much nicer.''
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