The Susitna River is 313 miles long in South Central Alaska, it’s North America’s fourth largest undammed river, sustains Alaska’s fourth largest king salmon run and was proposed to home the second largest dam in America.
The Susitna-Watana Hydro Dam was proposed to be 735 feet tall, to span the width of the river, and to be a load-flowing dam, which means water is released to meet energy demands. Susitna-Watana Hydro planned to build a dam, reservoir, and related facilities 184 river miles from Cook inlet, 87 river miles beyond Talkeetna, and 22-32 miles above Devils Canyon to provide long-term stable power for generations of Alaskans at an anticipated cost of $5.19 billion.
The dam would provide stable power but it’s affects on the local ecological system would be detrimental. A dam and reservoir on the Susitna River would devastate the wild salmon runs and irreparably damage local wild life such as, caribou, bear, moose and migratory bird habitats.
After hearing about Susitna-Watana Hydro proposal many locals came together to create an organization to collaborate, educate, and spread awareness of the effects of the dam. The Susitna River Coalition along with other helping hands like Trout Unlimited worked hard to spread the word ever since they heard about the proposal in 2011 and yesterday their work paid off when Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced to shut down the Susitna-Watana Hydro project.
You can read more about the conservation process here.