Eklutna Dam

Defunct hydroelectric dam

About the Project

Eklutna Dam—located in a narrow canyon about 25 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska near the Native Village of Eklutna—was built in the late 1920’s as part of the state’s first hydroelectric project. The project was decommissioned in the 1950’s after sediment filled the reservoir, and dam maintenance ceased.

The Eklutna Dena’ina people built their village at the mouth of the Eklutna River, which empties into the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet and once hosted prolific salmon. For decades, however, the 70 foot- high Eklutna Dam blocked salmon runs for five species of Pacific salmon (king, sockeye, silver, pink, and chum), degraded habitat, and led to a fisheries decline throughout the Eklutna River system.

The Eklutna Dam was removed in 2018. Removal of this dam, located on lands owned by Eklutna, Inc., an Alaskan regional native corporation, is the first step towards restoring river functions and traditional practices in the Native Village of Eklutna. Just upstream of the dam site lies Eklutna Lake, from which two hydropower facilities divert water for energy, releasing little water into the river. The next phase of the project focuses on implementation of fish mitigation measures required under a regulatory agreement with the hydropower companies to ensure water is released from Eklutna Lake in amounts sufficient to sustain healthy fish populations.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Owner: Eklutna, Inc.
Size: 70 feet tall, 100 feet wide
Project Cost: $7.5 million
ORF Investment: project management, deconstruction, public outreach, and documentary storytelling
Miles Opened: 7 miles
Fish: king, sockeye, silver, pink, and chum salmon
Status: removed 2018


RESOURCES
OUTCOMES
  • Restore fish passage to a seven-mile reach of the Eklutna River
  • Improve spawning habitat in the lower Eklutna River for five species of salmon and Dolly Varden trout
  • Re-establish natural river functions in the lower Eklutna River
  • Re-establish habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife on the lower Eklutna River
  • Restore traditional cultural practices for the Native Village of Eklutna
  • Provide significant economic benefits for Native Alaskans, including more than 30 jobs in construction, research, and project management through Eklutna Construction and Maintenance, LLC, which is an affiliate of Eklutna, Inc. and handled dam deconstruction

Project Partners

Eklutna, Inc.

Native Village of Eklutna

Trout Unlimited

Municipality of Anchorage

The Conservation Fund

Eklutna Construction and Maintenance, LLC

Murdock Charitable Trust

Rasmuson Foundation

Eklutna River Restoration Coalition

Alaskanist Stories

Alaska Center Education Fund

State of Alaska

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers