- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Uncharacteristically warm water temperatures and low river levels are killing salmon and Arctic char in Anchorage and the Matanuska and Susitna valleys.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists have recorded water temperatures as high as 74 degrees in Jim Creek, which is a tributary of the Knik River. Dead salmon have been found near the river’s weir, reported The Alaska Dispatch News (http://bit.ly/1Lajmt8 ).

In Anchorage, officials reported last week that about 500 recently-stocked Arctic char died at Little Campbell Lake when water temperatures went above 70 degrees.

While the warmer conditions are threatening the fish, habitat biologists don’t believe the die-offs will have lasting effects on fish numbers in Southcentral Alaska.

“It will have some impact but in the long term for species that return multiple age classes, I wouldn’t characterize it as a disaster,” said Mike Bethe, Mat-Su area manager for the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Temperatures this summer are among the warmest on record for much of Southcentral Alaska, and a lack of winter snow and summer rain have contributed to decreasing water levels.

The fish have a chance at survival as each year different age classes of fish return to a river system, helping mute the effects of single-year weather conditions. And Fish and Game biologists say water temperatures are cooling down from their highs this month.

“Hopefully this weather pattern has changed,” said Sam Ivey, Mat-Su area biologist for Fish and Game. “They are reporting that salmon are happier, and looking better.”

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Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, http://www.alaskajournal.com

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