The complex landscape from Herring Lagoon to Cape Kumlik encompasses three large and diverse marine bays: Kuiukta Bay, Chignik Bay and Lagoon, and Kujulik Bay. This area also encloses Seal and Castle Capes. Within this area, the Aleutian Mountains meet the Gulf of Alaska coast with both intimate fiords and long stretches of beach; the coastline measures approximately 500 km. Federal agencies have already recognized the outstanding wildlife values of the area: much of the coastal area is within the Alaska Peninsula or the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuges. The area is also important to three Alaska Native villages (Chignik Bay, Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake) whose corporations own the remaining land. The Chignik Bay system supports a profitable commercial and subsistence fishery for red salmon. The area has long been known to support a large and diverse fall and winter waterfowl population. Several species of concern can be found in the area at various times. Birds move between the bays depending on available resources and protection from storms. The bays also support healthy numbers of Marbled Murrelets in summer, and good numbers of Bald Eagles nest along the ocean cliffs.

{link:For IBA map, click here.|http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/usibac/2009_P8/AK3232m_ChignikBay09.pdf}

Ornithological Summary

More than twenty waterfowl species regularly use this area in spring and fall (Dau & Mallek 1979-present). Large flocks of Emperor Goose and Steller?s Eider are usually found in the area. Other WatchList species frequently counted during these surveys include Brant, King Eider, and Black Scoter. Van Pelt & Piatt (2005) documented up to 73 Marbled Murrelets and 5 Kittlitz?s Murrelets on individual transects especially in Kuiukta and Kujulik Bays. Hundreds of Black-legged Kittiwakes, Glaucous-winged Gulls and Mew Gulls, as well as several species of cormorants and murres also use the area. Bald Eagle surveys over a subsection of this coastline documented more than 25 nest sites (Savage & Hodges 2000, 2006). Unfortunately, biologists rarely visit this area and usually only from aircraft or boat. Additional details from local residents would only supplement the diversity and numbers of the avifauna using this area.

Savage, S. & Hodges, J. (2000) Bald Eagle survey - Pacific Coast of the Alaska Peninsula, Alaska, Spring 2000. Unpublished Report, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Fairbanks, AK. 12pp.

Savage, S. & Hodges, J. (2006) Bald Eagle survey - Pacific Coast of the Alaska Peninsula, Alaska, Spring 2005. Unpublished Report, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Fairbanks, AK. 24pp.

Van Pelt, T.I. & Piatt, J.F. (2005) Population status of Kittlitz?s Murrelet along the southern coast of the Alaska Peninsula. USGS Science Support Program, Final Report to US Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska, 63pp.

Conservation Issues

Currently, a small local population and a well managed fishery pose few threats to the proposed IBA. A road from Chignik Lake to Chignik Lagoon has recently been developed to improve transportation to and between the three villages. This may increase ground access to the Lagoon where many of the birds concentrate, but it may decrease aircraft disturbance (fewer aircraft landing at Chignik Lagoon). The potential for oil pollution from fishing boats, barges and off-shore transportation is ever present. Several large and active volcanoes lie near the area. Sea-level rise potentially affects any coastal area.

Ownership

The Gulf of Alaska coast below mean high tide is under the ownership of the State of Alaska. The uplands are owned by the Federal government or under private ownership. The federal management areas include. Aniakchak National Preserve (National Park Service), Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Private ownership includes Far West Inc., the village corporation for Chignik Bay, Chignik Lagoon Native Corporation, and Bristol Bay Native Corporation. Likely small private parcels are owned by individuals or companies (e.g., canneries) within the villages of Chignik Lagoon and Chignik Bay.

Habitat

The marine system includes deep and shallow tidally influenced bays with a variety of beaches including sand to rocky shoreline. A major freshwater system (Chignik River) flows into the head of Chignik Lagoon. The surrounding uplands include rocky, unvegetated slopes, alder and willow shrubland, ericaceous shrubland, and a minimal amount of meadows and wetlands surrounding small freshwater drainages. A glacier is found in the mountains at the head of Windy Bay. It is suspected that small eelgrass beds may be found in some of the bays.

Land Use

The area is primarily used by the residents of the three local villages for commercial fishing and subsistence harvest activities. Less than one percent of the area is developed as villages (residential, schools, clinics, canneries, airport, boat yards, docks). Other visitors to the area include sport hunters and sport anglers. Otherwise, because of the distance from population centers and few available modes of human transportation, the area is left untouched as a wildlife sanctuary.

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