How do culverts affect Mat-Su Valley salmon runs?
"The culverts probably have one of the highest impacts on the success of these fish," said Ron Benkert, with Dept. Fish and Game. "Getting the fish up to where they need to go is critical to continue the success of the species here."
Last legislative session, the Mat-Su Borough received $2.5 million to help its fisheries management policy.
“It has a lot to do with how the inlet is managed and where the commercial fishing takes place and what time of the season,” said Jim Colver, with Mat-Su Borough Wildlife Commission.
The Borough says over a million dollars is spent each year fixing culverts. Fish passage is the primary concern when it comes to roads over fisheries. The Mat-Su Borough is also concerned with the actions of commercial fisheries.
According to the state, there were thousands of culverts needing repair more than two decades ago. In 2013, the number is down to just a few hundred that need to be fixed.
"If there's salmon in them we're concerned about it," Benkert said. "Whether there's a run of 50 fish up it or 5,000 fish up it, they all contribute to the genetic diversity of the stock."
Here at the end of the season, parts of Alaska are judged by salmon run size. It's people's actions on both land and sea that affect the final verdict.