The Jim Creek Basin is a complex of lakes, ponds and wetlands in the lower Knik River valley, southeast of the community of Palmer. The basin is sandwiched between the Chugach Mountains to the north and the Knik River to the south, and often provides birds with access to open water when much of the surrounding area is frozen. Being close to a community, and well within easy reach of Anchorage, the area is heavily used for hunting and recreation.
The Jim Creek Basin is an important waterfowl stopover site, where concentrations of Trumpeter Swans build up in Spring (early to mid-April) each year. Trumpeter Swans also stop here in the Fall in good numbers. However, they face greater disturbance at this time of year as the area suffers from intense waterfowl hunting and increasing use of airboats and other motorized activity (ATVs). A small number of Trumpeter Swans (5-6 pairs) attempt to nest each year, although generally only a few (2-3 pairs) are successful. Of the Audubon WatchList species, Hudsonian Godwits and Short-billed Dowitchers occur in small numbers, and Olive-sided Flycatchers and Rusty Blackbirds breed regularly. Of the State Species of Concern, both Townsend?s and Blackpoll Warblers breed regularly in the area.
The Jim Creek Basin area suffers intense ATV and airboat recreational use, as well as heavy use by moose and waterfowl hunters. Highest use occurs from early-May through October. Off-road, motorized traffic is not confined to existing trails and causes considerable erosion on dunes. There is no enforcement presence in the basin.
The Jim Creek Basin is primarily managed by the state of Alaska?s Department of Natural Resources, with a small portion temporarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management (federal). A small section of the basin is included in the Lake George National Natural Landmark, and some small areas are privately owned.
The Jim Creek Basin is primarily a complex of ~20 shallow lakes and ponds, streams, floating peat mats, marsh, alder & willow thickets, cottonwood groves, and wet meadow. The northeastern border consists of wooded uplands and southerly-facing cliffs. Natural spring run-off from these cliffs creates the right conditions for an early thaw in the Spring and a late freeze-up in the Fall. Thus, the area often provides the only open water in the region for early-arriving or late-departing waterfowl. The Knik River, a silty, glacier-fed river, forms the southern border of the basin.
The basin area is heavily used for hunting and recreation at particular times of the year.