Drought, lower water levels impact Potter Marsh
People can see moose, eagles and sometimes bears at Potter Marsh in Anchorage, but visitors there are seeing less of something else right now — water.
"I've been managing Potter Marsh for about 21 years now and this is the lowest I've seen the water in Potter Marsh. And it's indicative of the drought that we're in," said Joe Meehan, refuge manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Mud replaces water in some spots of Potter Marsh. One area of water on the backside of the marsh, near resident mailboxes, is completely dry.
Meehan says three creeks support Potter Marsh. Little Survivor Creek drains water to most of the marsh, including the southern end, while Rabbit Creek and Little Rabbit Creek provide water for the area around the boardwalk.
"Without the rains we don't get the water into the creeks and we don't get the water into the marsh," Meehan said.
In the short-term, Meehan says the lower water levels might mean good news for birdwatchers because some shorebirds will have more area to roam. But he says a continued lack of rain might mean fewer swans later this month and into October.
"Yet to be determined if the low water impacts the number of swans here but if there's not open water for them they may decide to go elsewhere throughout Cook Inlet looking for areas to feed before migrating," he said.
Meehan says several years of continued drought could impact salmon numbers.
"The water throughout Southcentral, including Rabbit Creek and the other creeks that drain into Potter Marsh, are lower than normal. Some of them lower than they've ever been in 60 years of recording. And the water's warmer. So it will definitely effect the spawning of salmon and the survival of the eggs and the young," he said.
Meehan says a lack of rain may also impact ice skaters this winter with less water to freeze.
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