miles WSW of Anchorage. It extends from West Foreland north to Granite Point and encompasses 64 km of shoreline and 95 km2 of intertidal flats. Most of the area, including the intertidal flats from about 10 km south of McArthur River to Nikolai Creek, is within the Trading Bay State Game Refuge. Except for the Kustatan Ridge and scattered mounds and buttes, the land from the coast inland is mostly wetlands less than 100 feet in elevation until it meets the abrupt slopes of the Alaska Range. The McArthur and Chakachatna Rivers, along with numerous tributaries and creeks, braid through the site.

Ornithological Summary

The entire population of Wrangell Island snow geese often use this IBA and the mouth of the Kenai River as a migratory staging area each spring (9).
Trading Bay is an important stopover site for shorebirds in the spring; it is one of two embayments (see also Susitna Flats) to host large numbers of the nominate race of the Rock Sandpiper (C. p. ptilocnemis), of which virtually the entire population resides in Upper Cook Inlet between mid-Oct. and mid-April (3). On three occasions in 1997-1998 and once during winter 1999 between 50-73% of the population of about 20,000 birds was found in northern Trading Bay. Thus, based on the percentage of the population supported (criteria of >500,000 birds or >30% of a species' flyway population), Trading Bay qualifies as a WHSRN Hemispheric Reserve (3).
Other species of conservation concern (e.g. Alaska Audubon Watchlist) that occur at this site but may not meet IBA criteria include: Hudsonian Godwits (100+); Red-throated Loons (385 in 1976); Whimbrels; and Golden-Plover spp.

Taverner's Geese: Passage; 1982; 646; 4aiii.

Waterbirds: Pasage; 1999; 73,970; 4biv G.

Conservation Issues

Expansion of oil, gas, and coal development on the west side of Cook Inlet with potential for localized but severe impacts on surrounding habitat.

Increasing hunting pressures in California on Tule geese.

Disturbance of geese by low-flying aircraft.

Over-exploitation of fish and game stocks.

Unsustainable timber harvest.


Most of this site, including the intertidal flats from about 10 km south of McArthur River to Nikolai Creek, is within the Trading Bay State Game Refuge. It was nominated as a WHSRN site, but never formally designated as such.


Riparian Black spruce riparian is the most extensive habitat type on the refuge, poorly drained and characterized by black spruce, diamondleaf willow, alders, sedges and grasses.

Resin Birch bog is generally situated along watercourses inland from black spruce riparian. Also poorly drained with large mats of floating vegetation. Shrubs (resin birch, bog blueberry and narrowleaf Laborador tea) and herbaceous plants (grasses and sedges) predominate.

Shoreline: 44 km
Vegetated intertidal: 55 km2
Unvegetated intertidal: 86 km2

Land Use

McArthur River and Nikolai Creek attract some anglers; Nikolai Creek offers good opportunities for Chinook and red salmon, but guides are not known to visit there. Commercial fishing is limited to setnetting; there are approximately two dozen setnet sites authorized under shore fishery leases in the refuge.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.