Important Bird Areas

Anchorage Coastal

Alaska

The Anchorage Coastal IBA includes the entire coastal wetlands between Ship Creek and Potter Marsh, including Westchester Lagoon. This area contains extensive tidal flats, marsh communities, and alder-bog forests. The southern half of the site is located within the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, which extends from Point Woronzof southeast to Potter Creek, a distance of 16 miles.

Ornithological Summary

The Anchorage Coastal IBA supports some of the greatest numbers and diversity of birds in the Anchorage area. Ten thousand or more Snow Geese use the site during spring and fall migration. Approximately 220 bird species have been recorded, of which about 160 occur annually either as migrants or breeders. During the winter, some 85 species have been found. Whereas many other Alaskan IBAs are in remote locations, this IBA is adjacent to the City of Anchorage, the largest urban area in Alaska, and its educational value is extraordinarily high.
Species of conservation concern that are present but do not meet criteria thresholds include: Peregrine Falcon, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Trumpeter Swan, and Surfbird.

Conservation Issues

Potential and ongoing threats include: animal/plant introduction; impact of dyke/dam/bridge; disturbance to birds; filling-in of wetlands; industrialization/urbanization; infrastructure; recreation/tourism.

Ownership

Potter Marsh has an elevated boardwalk with interpretive signs extending along the marsh. With thousands of visitors per year, it is Anchorage's most popular spot for viewing and photographing wildlife. A Potter Marsh Nature Center is in the planning phase.
At Westchester Lagoon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Municipality of Anchorage, stablized and restored 790 feet of degraded shoreline and planted native vegetation within open gaps along the shore and other areas of the park to discourage ducks and geese from gaining access. Local schools learn about water quality monitoring and reporting through the West High Westchester Lagoon Environmental Monitoring Program (WeLEMP); projects have been conducted here for the National Youth Watershed Summit.

Habitat

Scrub; sea inlet/coastal features; mudflats/sandflats; saltmarsh; sand dunes/sand beach; coastal lagoon; standing freshwater; river/stream.

Land Use

Land use: Nature Conservancy; Tourism/Recreation; Urban/Industrial.Transport; hunting.

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