If you live in Alaska, salmon probably plays an important role in your diet or livelihood. As residents prepare for the summer salmon runs, it is important to remember that salmon start out small and vulnerable. Several non-profit groups around Homer are working on an initiative to bring more attention to the habitat of baby salmon.
“We tend to think of salmon as what we catch,” Kachemak Heritage Land Trust chief executive Marie McCarty said.
“So we think of the big salmon. We don’t often think about baby salmon because they just aren’t part of our lives. So part of the push behind this program is to make sure people understand the whole salmon life cycle,” McCarty said.
Its organization, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT), has partnered with several other local non-profit organizations in a program called “Baby Salmon Live Here”.
“Baby Salmon Live Here” began as a simple statewide outreach program developed by Anchorage-based Greatland Land Trust in 2013. KHLT modified the program to serve the Kenai Peninsula. In the same way Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Kenai Watershed Forum and Cook InletkeeperKHLT was involved in a push during May to highlight the importance of healthy salmon habitat for baby salmon.
Their plan is to put up signs in high-traffic areas that are integral to the salmon’s life cycle. KHLT even created its own logo.
“And so we took the program four or five years ago and redesigned the signs so the salmon had little smiley faces,” McCarty said.
The campaign is part of a larger dialogue aimed at addressing the effects of humans on the environment and engaging a variety of people in the conversation, said Carson Chambers, director of communications and development at the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust. .
“It’s nice to have a bit of science and an educational part,” she said. “Sometimes it’s about working with volunteers, or working with schools, young children or… It would be great to go out with commercial fishermen and put up signs.”
This year, KHLT and its partners have already installed signs in Homer, Seldovia and Seward. They also participate in awareness programs in collaboration with the tribe of the village of Ninilchik. KHLT hopes to install between 10 and 40 panels this summer across the Kenai Peninsula.
Kachemak Heritage Land Trust has planned a sign installation event this Saturday, May 28. The event will begin at the Homer Harbor Master’s Office at 10:30 a.m. and continue until 12:30 p.m. There will be a presentation by Maddie Lee on her research through the UAF on heat stress in the salmon. There will be refreshments from local businesses. Marie McCarty said she was looking forward to Saturday’s event.
“One of the things I really love about it is that it’s a celebration of baby salmon,” she said. “We don’t take the time to stop and think about the little details of our land and our landscape. And so it’s a way to bring the community together and just talk about baby fish.