Friday, May 4, 2012

Ice jams & local flooding

Last week an ice jam on the Tanana River flooded the nearby village of Manley Hot Springs where we pick up our mail and get fuel. In addition to raising water levels in the local creeks and slough to overflowing, the flood water also threatened the community airstrip (no mail) and the fuel pumps at the Trading Post, and contaminated several people's private wells (the public well appears unaffected though). Since outhouses and pit latrines are fairly common, I'm sure there were quite a few waste-related issues that didn't get mentioned in the news. The floodwaters have receded, but the creeks and slough are still swollen.

The flooding had one positive affect, though, the creation of many small ponds attracting migratory birds and waterfowl coinciding with the season opening in our game management unit. Several residents who rely on subsistence hunting got an easier meal than usual when their front yards became lakes and the ducks and geese flew in.

We've yet to determine what impact the flooding will have on the small commercial and subsistence fishermen, with runs due to start on the river and in local creeks in the next couple of weeks. ADF&G Division of Commercial Fisheries (which also govern subsistence fishing) have issued no advisories specific to the flooding, although the 2012 Outlook Report for the Lower Yukon (including the Tanana) states subsistence fishing on the first pulse of the spring chinook salmon run has been suspended and may be suspended entirely if the run strength is low, leaving many subsistence fishermen relying heavily on the summer chum and fall coho runs. The Chinook bag limit for sport fishing (including personal, non-subsistence, fishing) has also been reduced from 3 to 1 fish daily on the Yukon tributaries (none allowed from the Yukon proper), but this does not include the Tanana or its tributaries yet.

However, on a positive note... extensive sunshine and stronger than normal winds have done wonders for our little neck of the woods and most areas are drying out quite nicely. The majority of our area was unaffected by the ice jam, with only low lying areas filling up when the creeks rose and meltwaters couldn't drain. Unfortunately, areas in deep shade or on muskeg (like our main trail!!) are not drying or draining as well as the surrounding areas and continue to pose problems with access. But at least we aren't swamped everywhere and the wind is keeping the mosquitoes down. We'll see what transpires as we enter fire season.


Anonymous said...

Stay safe you all. We have high fire warnings going already for down here. Melt off has been fairly quick as far as the feet of snow we got but now everything up high is dry and a major fire hazard. Still have snow in the forecast but it probably wont come about due to our temps floating around 50 or so. The rain we have received hasnt been enough to even call measurable.


Plickety Cat said...

You be careful, too Wash!

Our temps are still hovering around 30 and we did get a few flurries of the forecasted snow. Nothing to write home about though.

Now that all the snow is mostly gone, we'll have to get cracking on clearing the rest of the firebreak around the cabin!

Megan Smith said...

Hi -- It's Megan from the cookbook blog. I'd like to ask you about doing some guest posting over the summer. You have so much knowledge and I'd love to have your contribution if you have time. Could you drop me a line? Thanks.