Cook Inletkeeper is a community-based nonprofit organization that combines advocacy, education and science toward its mission to protect Alaska’s Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains. The Cook Inlet watershed is the most populated and fastest-growing region in Alaska; it is also home to the state’s renowned wild salmon runs, some of which are at great risk due to climate and land-use change. Cook Inletkeeper has documented warm water in local salmon streams since monitoring began in 2002, with summer temperatures routinely exceeding state water quality standards established to protect spawning and migrating fish.
Fisheries scientists warn that high stream temperatures make fish increasingly vulnerable to pollution, predation and disease. Yet despite the association between warm water temperatures and reduced salmonid survivorship – there is little consistent, long-term temperature data for salmon streams in Alaska. Without such basic information, it is impossible to gauge the health of Cook Inlet’s salmon habitats and resources, and equally difficult to develop management responses to improve watershed resiliency to climate change